Can you hear that? It’s John Tesh’s “Roundball Rock” and to me, that’s always been the music whenever basketball is happening. Kind of like when you play Pokémon but instead of the battle theme and a little abomination of a creature, it’s the NBA on NBA theme and the best sport on the planet. It’s time for the Los Angeles Lakers basketball.
Their opponent: the cross-hall rivals, the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Lakers/Clippers rivalry hasn’t been much of a rivalry. The Lakers dominated the rivalry for the most part. Prior to the acquisition of Chris Paul, the last time the Clippers won a season series against the Lakers was in 1992-1993. The last time the Lakers won the season series against the Clippers was 2011-2012 where the Lakers took 2 out of the 3, at this point the Lakers had won 143 games, to the Clippers 49. Virtues changed and as of last season, the Lakers won 5 of those matchups, and the Clippers have won 23.
Now we can properly distinguish this as a rivalry. Both of these teams are looking like contenders. Each feature a duo of players that are arguably 1A and 1B in the league. Anthony Davis and LeBron James vs. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.
Unfortunately, Paul George will not be taking part in the start of the season due to shoulder surgery. The Lakers will not be without injuries. Kyle Kuzma is still nursing a foot injury that he sustained during his time with Team USA. Alex Caruso is day to day with a pelvic bone contusion.
The season was split two games apiece between the Staples Center teams. LeBron James averaged 25.5/11/7.5 against the Clippers last year. Davis averaged 34.4 ppg to go along with 9.7 rebounds and 3 blocks against the Clippers in three games. Against the frontcourt of Montrezl Harrell, Ivica Zubac, and JaMychal Green, he may have an opportunity to show Los Angeles what he’s got.
The Clippers have more familiarity as a team, retaining the services of Beverly, Harrell, Lou Williams, Zubac, amongst others. Laker fans are familiar with Lou Williams and the team has to be wary of his ability to get hot at any moment. Williams had his 5th highest scoring output against any opponent last season against the Lakers. He averaged 24.8 ppg in those contests.
The Lakers will have their share of fresh faces in Danny Green, Jared Dudley, Avery Bradley, and a few more newcomers. This game will also be Dwight Howard’s first regular-season game for the Lakers since his disastrous exit in 2013.
Tipoff is at 7:30 PM PST at Staples Center in Los Angeles.