There is some buzz around the NBA that the Los Angeles Clippers are rooting to play the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst pointed out on The Hoop Collective podcast that there are advantages to playing the Lakers in the postseason sooner rather than later. Namely, the Staples Center is likely to allow fewer fans as the postseason tips off than the potential capacity in the later rounds.
“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,” Windhorst explained. “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.”
The Clippers’ final regular-season games are playing out a bit differently as the team lost to the Rockets prompting fans on social media to accuse the team of tanking to avoid playing the Lakers. With one game remaining, the Clippers are the No. 4 seed meaning the soonest they could potentially face the Lakers is the second round if the standings hold.
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Paul George on a Potential Matchup with the Lakers: ‘We’re Worried About Us’
Unless the Lakers get a bit of help from the Blazers, the team appears destined for the play-in tournament. What looked like a potential first-round rivalry matchup is now much less likely with both the Clippers and Lakers dropping in the standings. Clippers star Paul George downplayed the idea that the team has the Lakers on their minds.
“Too much going on. Still what, 6 games left?” Paul noted when asked about the potential matchup, per ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk. “We are still trying to move up regardless of what Lakers are doing. We are worried about us”
Windhorst Is Still Skeptical of the Clippers
Count Windhorst among those who are skeptical of the Clippers making noise in the playoffs. If the two L.A. teams do face off in the postseason, Windhorst still likes the Lakers’ chances if LeBron James and Anthony Davis are healthy.
“If LeBron and AD were fully healthy and I knew that, I might pick the Lakers,” Windhorst added. “But I can’t bring myself with the Clippers, I am so scarred by what happened last year. And this year, even though they have had a lot of positive things happen, they have still stubbed their toe enough that I am just not there with it.”
The Lakers are getting healthy but will have to gain reps together in the playoffs. With the addition of Andre Drummond, the Lakers’ best lineup remains up in the air as the big man has played so few games with both James and Davis on the court together. Both Los Angeles teams will likely need some postseason success to set up the cross-town postseason matchup in the later rounds that fans are anxious to see.