Welcome back NBA, we missed you! On the eve of the opener we list three things to watch for as the Los Angeles Lakers take on the Los Angeles Clippers.
Will the Clippers Defense be as formidable as imagined?
Few rookies have come into the Association with as much fanfare as Lonzo Ball. In 2018 Ball was the number two pick for one of the NBA’s most storied franchises. He came with a promise to recapture Lakers glory and was dubbed the face of the team by then President of Basketball Operations, Magic Johnson.
Ball was “it”.
Patrick Beverly was having none of it. In game one he made it his personal mission to introduce the rookie to the NBA. In that game Ball totaled three points on 1 of 6 shooting in almost 30 minutes of action. Beverly was, in every sense of the term, Mr. 94 feet in that game. Ball rebounded nicely in his first season, but it sure felt like that first game derailed the start of Balls career.
Now, Beverly is joined by the Klaw. In time, that duo will add the league leader in steals. It almost feels unfair. Generally, good offence (which the Lakers no doubt have) beats good defense, but the Clips defense is supposed to be awesome. What happens when a rock meets a hard place?
We will see.
Will it finally be a Clippers home game?
For years the Clippers marketing team was all about promoting the visiting team. Back then, that strategy made sense. The home team wasn’t much of an attraction so they had to pull in the Milwaukee, Utah, Miami and other transplants. One unwanted result of that understandable marketing campaign was that Clippers home games rarely felt like HOME games.
That was all the more true when the Clippers matched up against the Lakers. A not to secret life-hack in the LA area is that you can attend Clippers games for less than the cost of a Lakers game. With that fact in hand it makes sense for cost-conscious LAL fans to watch their team, in their arena, against the Clippers for what are LAC home games. In fact, those games, in the past, have been Clippers “home” games.
It’s a depressing reality for any Clippers fan.
If the Clippers are winning, their fans are vocal, if the Lakers are winning, their fans dominate. Will this be a REAL Clippers home game – for once? Will the crowd make noise when the Clippers make a great play and moan when the Lakers do? Will a prominent Lakers player be booed when they step up to the free throw line at a crucial point in the game?
In short, will it be evident to all who is the home team? If so, it will be the first time that has happened in a game against the Lakers.
Will the Lakers front court be as formidable as imagined?
It’s only been in flashes, but it’s impossible to deny how good the duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis have looked when on the floor together. LBJ has always been an above average play-maker, he just hasn’t always had players that regularly make plays. In AD, LBJ has a finisher. Someone who will hit that open mid-range jump hot, catch that lob and finish that play. Someone who will know how much time is on the clock!
It’s worth noting that JaVale McGee is the perfect compliment player to the LBJ & AD duo. McGee does not need plays run for him to be productive. He is a grinder who will go after rebounds, be aggressive, protect the rim and is comfortable as a third, fourth or no-option player. Dwight Howard has looked good as well, but he isn’t, or hasn’t been, that type of player. James and Davis are, beyond a doubt, one of the best duo’s in the Association. When you add a complimentary player like McGee to that mix, does that give the Lakers the best front court in the NBA?
Yes. Yes, it does.
It’s finally game time. Time to stop the conjecture, tip-it off an figure it out. The NBA is back!!
Written by Jose Salviati
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!