Records: Lakers 0-0 , Clippers 0-0
Offensive ratings: Lakers N/A, Clippers N/A
Defensive ratings: Lakers N/A, Clippers N/A
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Avery Bradley, Danny Green, LeBron James, Anthony Davis, JaVale McGee
Clippers: Patrick Beverly, Landry Shamet, Kawhi Leonard, Mo Harkless (?), Ivica Zubac
Injuries: Lakers: Kyle Kuzma (out), Rajon Rondo (game time decision); Clippers: Paul George (out), Rodney Macgruder (out)
Opening night. I’m ready. There’s a mix of feelings. Anxiousness. Excitement. Happiness. Just…there’s nothing better than the start of another Lakers season. Here. We. Go.
I told you my outlook for the Lakers for the year in my season preview. I think they have some holes they’d surely like to have filled and some questions that can only be answered with on-court play. I also think they have some quality depth and high ceilings on both sides of the floor while being anchored by 2 of the top 5-6 players in the league. How it goes remains to be seen, but he composition of this roster guarantees it will be seen. There’s few rosters league-wide as compelling as this one night to night.
As for this game against the Clippers, we can talk matchups and X’s and O’s, but I don’t have a great feel for any of that stuff yet, honestly. I can tell you I think Danny Green will get the first crack at Kawhi defensively and that I expect LeBron to guard Beverly. I can tell you I expect Davis to be an active helper and for JaVale to have to hold up on an island against Zubac.
I can also tell you I think the Lakers will look to crash the offensive glass against a Clippers front line that doesn’t have a lot of size behind Zubac and that I expect them to strategically push the pace to try to get transition baskets against a Clippers defense that will surely try to get back but may not be so sharp to in their first game. In fact, sloppiness, both in terms of execution and in shot making, would not surprise me from both teams.
I think the battle of the benches will be interesting. I expect KCP to get first crack at guarding Lou Williams and that I do not expect that to go well for the Lakers. I also think Harrell’s activity will give Dwight some problems on defense and for Dwight’s strength to bother Harrell on the other side.
I expect to see Quinn Cook get some extended run (particularly if Rondo doesn’t play) and believe that Avery Bradley will get his chance on Kawhi at some point. I also would not be surprised if, should the game come down to a couple of crucial possessions, for LeBron and/or AD to either get a possession or two against Kawhi or for them to come at him with a couple of hard double teams to make someone else make a play.
Ultimately, I think this game will likely come down to which team can make the most 3’s and if the Lakers are hitting their open shots, they’ll be tough to beat. I think Davis is going to give the Clips a lot of problems and that if the Lakers play him a center down the stretch I’m not confident in Harrell or Zu to be able to maintain effectively — so we may get to see JaMychal Green manning the pivot in crunch time minutes.
These are all guesses, though. That’s the beauty of opening night. We have a sense of where things can go, but without any good data or film, we’re just going to have to witness it live like everyone else. I hope ya’ll enjoy this one. I hope for a long and fruitful season, but it all starts tonight.
Where you can watch: 7:30pm start time on TNT. Listen on ESPN Radio 710AM.