The West is loaded and the Clippers will have marquee games throughout the year, but these five games all have a little extra meaning, and they all revolve around the best player in the NBA, who just won his second finals MVP. The Clippers five most intriguing games could also be called the Kawhi victory lap. Kawhi crushed the dreams of all five of these teams, four in last years Championship run and the Lakers this off-season when he chose the Clippers over them. He’ll look to do it again on his way to another championship with his new running mates in LA.
The 1st game against Milwaukee he goes up against Giannis Antetokounmpo who he shut down to advance to the Finals. League MVP vs Final MVP what more could you want? In last year’s playoff series Kawhi put the clamps on Giannis and exposed his lack of offensive moves. Now they face off early in the season with Giannis looking for revenge and Kawhi with his new team looking to set the tone at Staples Center.
Game 2 December 11th: Clippers at Raptors
Kawhi’s return to Canada. He’ll get his ring, see his old teammates and should be embraced as a sports hero. Toronto went all in for one year of Kawhi and was rewarded with a Championship. His return to San Antonio was ugly, but this time around, Toronto fans should show him the love he deserves. He put a country on his back and brought them a Championship. I expect the usually stoic Kawhi to get a little emotional before the game.
Game 3: December 25th: Clippers at Lakers
The Lakers and the Clippers face off their usual four times this year, including opening night. This Christmas Day game will not be like the other three. The stars will be out and the players will be ready to show out. Kawhi and Paul George both want to shine in their hometowns with their families watching. This is also a chance for Kawhi to cement his status as leagues best player, going against LeBron, the league’s de facto best player for the past 10+ years. LeBron is 57 points away from passing Kobe’s Christmas scoring record, there would be no sweeter time to break it than against the new-look Clippers.
But I expect Kawhi to spend most of the game guarding LeBron, so the King dropping 50 isn’t very likely.
Game 4 January 10th: Warriors at Clippers
Anytime the Warriors come to town it’s must-see TV. We saw what Kawhi did as a Raptor to a banged-up Warriors team, effectively ending their dynasty. Now the Warriors come in with a retooled roster looking to make a statement over the Championship favorite Clippers. Steph Curry should have the green light all season and it will be interesting to see where Klay Thompson is in his recovery from ACL surgery. With or without Klay this game is going to be a battle. Steph vs Kawhi is always an intriguing match-up.
Game 5 February 11th: Clippers at Sixers
Kawhi leads the Clippers into Philadelphia after crushing their dreams with the buzzer-beater heard round the world in game seven. Philly will be looking to erase the heartbreak from last year and will be reminded about it constantly leading up to this game. We’ll see if the Sixers can find a way to stop the Klaw.
Basketball is alive and well in Los Angles! The two teams that share the Staples Center are also the favorites to win the Championship, with the little brother Clippers the slight favorite over the LeBron lead Lakers. Always the bridesmaid and never the bride the Clippers are finally positioned to get a ring.