Well, folks, for the first time since mid-June, we have basketball games that will count in the standings! Both the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers revamped their rosters significantly in the offseason, and the likely Western Conference Finals matchup is happening on the first night of the NBA regular season Tuesday. This is the first time that these teams who share the Staples Center together are both title contenders in the same year. Both teams will be without a starting forward as Kyle Kuzma sits for the Lakers while Paul George will be out for the Clippers.
This game will mark the beginning of the Frank Vogel era in Lakerland, while Doc Rivers is back after his most impressive Clippers season last year, taking an undermanned and underrated group to the playoffs, even after sending their then-leading scorer away at the trade deadline. Jason Kidd may be waiting in the wings should Vogel slip, but that will not be among the main Lakers’ storylines. The Kawhi Leonard era kicks off Tuesday night, as we wait for PG to come back.
In the “Clipperized” Staples Center, the Lakers are listed as 3.5-point favorites. The over/under is set at 224.5.
Lakers Begin AD Era
This is going to be a very exciting Lakers team to watch for so many reasons. It starts with the LeBron James-Anthony Davis pairing, likely to be among the NBA’s best and most lethal duos this year. Avery Bradley, Danny Green and JaVale McGee comprise the rest of the starting unit, all three players one-time rivals of LeBron who each thrive on the defensive end. Dwight Howard coming off the bench could be a serious catalyst for driving the second unit, which did not have an effective big man on it in 2018-19. Without Kuzma tonight, the lineup will be a little different, but this is a championship contender no matter how you slice it.
With Rajon Rondo likely pacing the second unit this year, they will be doing a lot of running, with a whole lot of fancy passing also going to take place. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has been putting a lot of work in, so watch for him to get up a high number of threes.
Kawhi’s New Home
The lineup that the Clippers will be rolling out for this year’s season opener is going to be drastically different from the group they began last year with. The two key mainstays are Montrezl Harrell and Lou Williams, the NBA’s best 1-2 bench punch. Not only did that they add in Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, but they improved defensively with the re-signing of Ivica Zubac and JaMychal Green and the addition of Maurice Harkless. Rookie Terance Mann has been getting rave reviews from teammates.
This is a deep team with a tremendous head coach. It is not necessarily championship or bust for them like it is for the Lakers, but they should expect to at least make the Western Conference Finals.
Lakers Pick Up The Win
With PG out, the scoring burden falls heavier on Kawhi. The Lakers’ defense will help them to a tight opening-night win.
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