It looks as if the anticipated war for the battle of L.A. is still on schedule. The number 1 seeded Lakers have advanced to the Western Conference finals last night by eliminating the Houston Rockets in 5 games. Meanwhile the Clippers are trying to finish off the pesky Denver Nuggets, who forced a game 6 Friday night with a 111-105 win. The Nuggets came back from a 16 point deficit bringing up memories of past Clippers collapses.
This Clippers team figures to be different. They are armed with tremendous talent, versatility and experience. They have the league’s reigning finals MVP, a top 15 player in Paul George and a team that made an appearance in last year’s tournament without both of them.
So assuming that the Clippers are able to dispose of the Nuggets, who would have the edge in a series between the two teams? Judging on what we have seen in the bubble, it would seem to me that the edge would go to the Lakers. While many would disagree, I would pick the Lakers in the series based on one reason, consistency.
The Lakers have been dominant.They disposed of the Blazers in 5 games, as well as the Rockets, and they seem to improve with each outing. Getting significant contributions from different players each game and in pivotal points in the game, the Lakers have played well throughout the playoffs more consistently than the Clippers.
In the series against the Blazers, they made the necessary adjustments needed to disperse Portland, which included limiting Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, Portland’s explosive back court. They improved their 3 point shooting from that dreadful game 1 loss, in which they shot 35 percent from the field and 15.6 percent from three. From then on they won 4 straight.
Against the Rockets the Lakers played passive in Game 1. Almost as if they were feeling out the Rockets. They then dominated the next 4 games. They are playing excellent defense and shooting fairly well . Their 2 superstars are playing superbly, averaging nearly 55 to 60 points between them.
The Clippers however, look shaky. In their series win against the Mavs, they played inconsistent defense throughout the series, and could not stop Luka Doncic. In the Mavs 2 wins they allowed the “others” and may have lost game one if not for the ejection of Kristaps Porzingis. They seemingly had control of the series against the Nuggets, but couldn’t close them out in game 5.They didn’t play particularly well in game 4 either, having to come back from trailing most of the game, at times by double digits to win. Paul George, Lou Williams have been up and down. Their defensive intensity has been suspect.
Against the Lakers they will have trouble turning it on whenever they feel like it and will dig themselves a tremendous hole playing inconsistently. Like they have so far. In my opinion, the edge right now would go to the Lakers, and that’s assuming the Clippers wrap up the Nuggets today.