With NBA basketball still over a month away wouldn’t it be nice to get a sneak peak at what the season is going to look like? At least the first ten games for the Clippers. That’s impossible you say? Read on.
It feels like an eternity, I know. I imagine there have been other NBA seasons as highly anticipated as the one coming in 2019-20, but it doesn’t feel like it. So many big names changed teams this off-season. The Raptors are the defending champions.
The Raptors! From Canada!!
In short, there is a lot to look forward to, especially in Los Angeles. LA is home to four of the top 10 NBA players according to Sports Illustrated. Incidentally, do you think it bothers LeBron James to come in at #3? I mean, does it motivate him? Does he need motivation at this point in his career? I am honestly curious to know if he even cares.
The Clippers, with Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, are poised for the best season in their history. I’m not sure it will be their best regular season ever however. To date, their best regular season was in the 2013-14 when they won 57 games and dropped only 25. That team was led by Blake Griffin, 24 and Chris Paul, 28. In the 2019-20 season the Clippers will be led by the aforementioned Leonard, 28 and George, 29. This Clippers duo is not a lot older than the one in 2013-14, but they are old enough to know better.
The regular season is important. But, if you aren’t healthy and peaking come playoff time it can all be for naught. The 2019-20 version of the Clippers understand that. They have a coach that understands that. This team will compete in the regular season, but their goal is to be healthy and do some damage in the playoffs.
Which takes us back to the upcoming season being the best in Clippers history.
They may not top 57 wins, but anything less than the franchises first appearance in the NBA Finals will be a letdown. This team was built to win. Not just in during the regular season. Not just in the first round in the playoffs. This team was built to win it all and to win it all in 2019-20.
While we wait and continue to count down the days I thought it would be fun to give you the outcome of the Clippers first ten regular season games. I realize it’s a bit of a spoiler, but 39 days is just such a long time to wait. So, let’s take a look at what the Clippers first 10 games look like.
Game #1 at home v the Los Angeles Lakers
The NBA is a sports league that understands they are in the entertainment business. They do a better job of giving the fans what they want than most of the others. Fans in Los Angeles, and basketball fans everywhere, want to see the Clippers play the Lakers.
They won’t have to wait long.
The battle for LA has never really been a battle. For decades, the Lakers were better. Over the last decade or so, the Clippers have had the upper hand. This is the first year in, well, ever, that both teams start the regular season with a chance to win it all. A legitimate chance. This season, the battle of LA means something.
Game one will be won by the Clippers. The Clippers have a better coach and are returning enough of their core to be in better shape as a team than the Lakers who moved a lot of players to bring in Anthony Davis. A basketball team is more than just collection of great players; it takes time for a team to become a team. The Lakers have great players, but having never played together it is going to take time for this team to be cohesive unit. The Clippers are just closer to that end state.
Clippers start 1-0.
Game #2 on the road against the Golden State Warriors
It’s funny to think that the team that has been in five of the last six NBA Finals is being overlooked going into this season. The Golden State Warriors are as close to a dynasty as we have in the modern NBA. Yet, not many prognosticators are giving them much of a chance in the coming season. Now, I don’t necessarily think this team will make it to the Finals, but I can’t say I would be too surprised if they did.
In fact, you could say that about most teams in the crazy Western Conference.
The Warriors are still a force, especially when you play them in their home court. In 2019-20 that will be the brand new Chase Center. Now, it’s possible that the crowds in the Mission Bay neighborhood of San Francisco will be a little more reserved than the crazies that regularly attended games at Oracle Arena in Oakland, but I’m betting not by much. Home games for the Warriors will still have a decided home court advantage.
The Clippers will lose in what is the Warriors first game of their NBA season and the first regular season game at Chase Center.
Clippers are now 1-1.
Game #3 – on the road against the Phoenix Suns
The Suns will be bad. Not like horribly bad. Not laughably bad. Just more, overall bad. They will win some games, they will look good doing it, but overall this team won’t achieve much in the 2019-20 season. The franchise in stuck in that middle-of-road place where they aren’t bad enough to earn a good draft pick and not good enough to do any damage.
Now, good teams don’t always beat bad teams. This Clippers team however, coming off a loss to the Warriors, will not lose two in a row. Clippers win this one.
Clippers now 2-1
Game #4 – at home against the Charlotte Hornets
Remember how I said the Suns would be bad, but not horribly, laughably bad? The Hornets of 2019-20 will lean more towards being horribly, laughably bad than the “just bad” of the Suns.
Quick, without opening a new browser, checking with Siri or otherwise cheating, name three Charlotte Hornets on the 2019-20 roster.
Ok, can you name one?
Exactly. Horribly, laughably bad. Sorry Charlotte. Sincerely!
This Clippers team will win the games they are supposed to win. This game, they are supposed to win and they get the job done.
Game #5 – on the road against the Utah Jazz
The Jazz are not the Suns or Hornets. Utah has an NBA franchise that plays with the same relentless effort the Clippers showed regularly last season. In addition to being a good “team”, the Jazz have a burgeoning star in Donovan Mitchell. There is no doubt this is a playoff team in the upcoming season. They, like the Warriors, have a decided home court advantage.
In short, this is not an easy stop for any NBA team. The Clippers included.
This will be a close game. A fun game to watch. Multiple lead changes and clutch shots from players on both teams, but in the end, the Jazz come out on top.
Game #6 – at home against the San Antonio Spurs
I will admit something to you. I have been counting out the Spurs for at least the last three seasons. Maybe long before that. It’s still unclear to me how the Spurs won 48 games last season.
How is this team still good?!
Yet, they remain good. Their streak of consecutive playoff appearances is nothing short of amazing. They last time the Spurs missed the playoffs Bill Clinton was president. The Macarena was a song everyone liked. In 1996, some of you reading this weren’t even born.
Nothing short of amazing!
However, that run ends in the 2019-20 season. The magic of Gregg Popovich finally runs its course. The Spurs will miss the playoffs in the upcoming season. Oh, they also lose this game against the Clippers.
Game #7 – at home against the Milwaukee Bucks
The Bucks are good. Last season, they were very good. This is a scary team with a superstar player in Giannis Antetokounmpo and an All-Star in Khris Middleton. In the 2019-20 season they return the core group that lost in the Eastern Conference Finals. That means this team is good, hungry and experienced.
A dangerous combination for any team looking for a win against them.
This is a home game for the Clippers. This is also a game against the top two players in the Association, according to Sports Illustrated. Yes, its true that Leonard got the best of Antetokounmpo in the ECF last season. Will that continue in the 2019-20 season or will Giannis rise to the challenge?
I was honestly so excited to find out and would love to tell you the answer, but I don’t want to spoil too much. I’ll just tell you that the Clippers win this game. So much I could tell you about how they win, but I want to make sure you still watch. File this one under Clippers victory though.
Game #8 – at home against the Portland Trailblazers
Damian Lillard ended the season of the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2019 by making an improbable shot then waving to Paul George. Well, maybe he was waving at the Thunder as a whole, but George felt the brunt of that curt wave. Let’s call this, the first game between waver and wavee, the wave-rematch. Will George find redemption in shutting down Lillard? Will Dame launch and make another 37 foot bomb en route to 50 plus points?
Again, I won’t tell you specifics, so stop asking me!
As promised however, I will tell you that the Blazers come out on top in this game. This is the first home loss for the Clippers who were riding high after beating the Bucks.
Game #9 – at home against the Raptors
The NBA understands that it is in the entertainment business.It knows what fans wants and doesn’t make them wait long to see it. The Raptors are the defending champions. The Clippers are among the, or just the – depending on who you ask, favorites to win the championship this season. Leonard used to play for the Raptors, now he plays for the Clippers.
The NBA just gets it!
There will be less emotional for Kawhi (who does feel emotions – right?) than when his Clippers play the Raptors in Toronto, but it will no doubt still be a game he has marked on his calendar. Without Leonard the Raptors will remain competitive in the East, but not at the level they were last season with the reigning Finals MVP. The Clippers win this game.
Game #10 – on the road against the Houston Rockets
I don’t like the Rockets. It’s an illogical dislike, I admit it. The Rockets never did anything to me. They never slighted me or offended me. There is just something about the franchise that rubs me the wrong way. Maybe it goes back to when Ralph Sampson hit that lucky shot against the Lakers in the 1986 Western Conference Finals. Or maybe it was when Josh Smith channeled Michael Jordan against the Clippers in 2015 keeping them from the Western Conference Finals.
Maybe its the beard?
I can’t really pin-point it, but I am not a fan. Objectively however, the Rockets are a good team. In fact, I think they may have even improved by replacing Chris Paul with Russell Westbrook. On paper it really doesn’t make sense. You would want to partner a shot-first guard like James Harden with an All-Star pass-first guard like Chris Paul. It’s a bit illogical to pair Harden with another pass-first guard like Westbrook.
Yet, I think it’s going to work out OK for the Rockets.
In fact, it worked out OK for the Rockets in this game. Yup, they beat the Clippers in a game that Westbrook goes off! No details, but I can share this little tidbit without doing too much damage to the space-time continuum, Westbrook ends the game with a triple-double.
You might be thinking, 6-4 is a lousy start for a team with Championship aspirations. You wouldn’t be wrong. It’s not the type of start to the season one would expect for a team built to win. Remember however that the Clippers were built to win it all, not necessarily to win the Western Conference and definitely not to win the regular season and earn the top spot going into the playoffs.
Besides, did you see who they were playing?
Success for the Clippers will come. The first ten games however will be a test for them against some very good teams. To come out of it above .500 is a victory for the LAC and this team will do just that!
Jose has written for Bleacher Report, Clipperholics, OC Weekly and wrote a series of articles covering the 2010 NBA Finals for the LA Times. He lives in Southern California and is excited to watch thePeachBasket grow!