Would the Los Angeles Clippers want to play the reigning NBA champs out of the gate this postseason? According to one NBA insider, there are people around the league who think the Clippers would be best off landing the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round of the playoffs.
On the latest episode of his podcast, Brian Windhorst and the Hoop Collective, ESPN analyst and NBA insider Brian Windhorst spoke about the upcoming postseason and which team has the best chance to win it all. According to Windhorst, many league sources think the Clippers would have an advantage by squaring off against the Lakers first.
Windhorst: 1st Round is Best Time to Play Lakers
As it stands currently, the Clippers would get the No. 3 seed in the West and would play the Dallas Mavericks, who hold the 6th seed. The Lakers are currently the No. 7 seed, but if they move up to No. 6 and the Clips stay put, the Battle of L.A. will be on, which Windhorst thinks would benefit Ty Lue’s squad:
You could even argue, and I don’t know how to judge this, but I have talked to some people in the league who said it would be an advantage for the Clippers to play the Lakers in the first round because Staples Center will have very few fans in it and therefore the inherent disadvantage of playing home games in front of Lakers fans would be minimized. And then if you’re the Clippers, you figure you have to play the Lakers at some point. That battle royale has to happen. It’s destined to happen. … You’re catching them early. So some people would argue that the Clippers should be hoping that the Lakers end up in sixth because this is the best time to get them.
After a disappointing early exit in the Western Conference semifinals last season, getting off to a hot start in the playoffs this year feels paramount for the club.
Clippers & Lakers Could Be Getting Healthy at Key Time
Both teams from L.A. have been dealing with numerous injuries this spring, and both may be getting healthy just as the postseason starts.
“The Clippers have generally played pretty damn well the second half of the season considering the challenges that they’ve had,” Windhorst added, in reference to injuries to the likes of Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Patrick Beverley and Serge Ibaka to name a few. The Lakers, meanwhile, have also dealt with various ailments of late, with superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis both battling numerous injuries this spring. Both squads should have their key playmakers back for the playoffs, though, including Ibaka, although he’ll be coming off the bench behind Ivica Zubac.
So — would it be beneficial for the Clippers to face off against a Lakers team that could very well heat up if James’ sore ankle starts to feel better? Facing the Lakers early as opposed to later after they’ve had the chance to build some momentum, seems key. Besides, the Clippers have managed to play well against them all season.
The Clips have played the Lakers three times this year: The first game of the season, in which they beat James and company, 116-109, again on April 4, when they won 104-86 against a Lakers team that played without James, Davis and Andre Drummond and again on May 6, beating a shorthanded Lakers squad that was once again without James. One thing is for sure: James is going to play in the postseason, so the Clippers are going to have to bring extra if and when it happens, first round or beyond.