“Lakers-Clippers–What to Watch”
It’s here, opening night of the NBA, Tuesday night.
It seems like we just finished the NBA finals in a bubble in Orlando-actually we did about 8-weeks ago.
They hope to play a 72-game schedule this year, a year that will include positive covid tests, cancelled games and rearranged schedules.
The Lakers play the Clippers in the NBA opener, a year after the teams opened against each other with so many new faces.
Anthony Davis joined the Lakers and LeBron James, driving the team to the NBA championship celebration.
Kawhi Leonard and Paul George came on board with the Clippers only to see a promising championship season burn to the ground with selfishness and stupidity by the time the teams got to the bubble and then the postseason.
The Lakers, despite getting the ring, made 7-roster changes, and got better. The Clippers, playing the blame game, got rid of their coach and a host of backup players off the bench.
Anthony Davis was everything LA has not had in a big man since the Shaquille O’Neal days.
Kawhi Leonard and Paul George were not what the Clippers hoped they would be. They earned big money contracts, but were not good teammates, and the off season stories about attitude, culture clashes, and lack of leadership, have hurt their respective reputations.
But it’s a new season, and 2nd year coach Frank Vogel welcomes gritty center Montrzl Harrell, center Marc Gasol and guard Dennis Schroeder. How good are the new arrivals? Harrell and Schroeder have won the NBA’s 6th man Awards the last two years, and Gasol will be more reliable than the departed Dwight Howard. Add in defensive specialist Wes Matthews and the Lakers will be more reliable and probably grittier than last year’s ‘Ring the Thing’ team.
Doc Rivers is gone from the Clippers bench. He let his star players run roughshod over his coaching style. Tyronne Lue takes over and takes on a big challenge of dealing with his stars, but Lue did have success in Cleveland where LeBron was the man.
But the Clippers have been weakened. Harrell goes across the hallway to the Lakers, taking with him 16-points, 8-boards and alot of grit. Serge Ibaka-Nick Batum and Luke Kennard are new to the team, but it’s doubtful they will be as productive as what got away.
Clippers chemistry will be a big part of keeping score this coming season and the reality they traded away a ton of draft picks, so adding for the future will be a monster challenge.
The Lakers push the ball up the floor mentality should grow with what they added, and their toughness will be better. The Clippers want to run elements of the triangle offense and need to find a way for Leonard and George to co-exist with just 1-basketball on the floor.
Lots of new faces in new places around the league too, led by Doc Rivers emerging as the 76ers coach..Billy Donovan in Chicago…and tough guy Tom Thibodeau taking over the Knicks. There is no Mike D’Antoni in Houston.
We also wait to see what happens in Houston with James Harden… the emergence of Rockets teammate John Wall…Russell Westbrook’s arrival in Washington…and whether Zion Williamson stays healthy and changes all things in New Orleans. Golden State is a year older..Brooklyn is healthier..Miami got deeper.
Let the games begin, but it appears everyone will be chasing the ones who got their rings on opening night, the Lakers.