Apologies for the late posting of this and for the very succinct post that is going to follow. The last couple of days have been some much needed family time for me and so I’ve mostly been out of the mix (though I did quite enjoy watching the Lakers play their best game of the non-LeBron and AD games in their win over the Kings on Friday). With that, I’ll keep this brief.
The Lakers and Clippers face off today in what will be billed as another installment of the battle for Los Angeles. Yeah, that’s not true. The Lakers remain super banged up and without their best two players who also double as two of the best players in the league. There’s little this game can teach us about a matchup between these teams, and, honestly, little it can teach us in general.
The Clippers have been their up and down selves of late, losing back to back games vs. the Magic and the Nuggets after winning 6 in a row right before that. I’ve honestly no clue what to expect from them on any given day; they can have a dominant win where they look great on both sides of the ball or they can struggle to hit jumpers and not look sharp enough defensively and lose vs. a mediocre or bad team. How this impacts them for the playoffs is anyone’s guess, but they’re one of the many “prove it” teams we have right now (along with the Jazz and, to a certain extent, the 76ers) who are looking to make a jump to the latter stages of the playoffs and win the whole thing.
Obviously, we’re a ways off from that and today’s game is even further away considering the current state of the Lakers. That said, I do expect the Clippers to be motivated today, despite the ingredients for a letdown staring everyone right there in the face. I think we’ll get a better version of them today and, with that, I expect them to win. They have more talent, are mostly healthy, and this is a nationally televised game where they can look to make a statement while also bouncing back from their losing streak. In a way, this game could end up looking a lot like the Bucks game where the better team just keeps their focus over the course of the game and pulls away.
However, if the Lakers are to have a chance, there’s a few things that need to go their way.
- Keep the Clippers on the perimeter and contest shots (to hopefully force misses. The Clips are a strong jump shooting team, but it’s pretty much all they do offensively. Limit them there and you have a much better chance of winning the game.
- Make your own shots. The Lakers were amazing from distance vs. the Kings on Friday, hitting 17 of their 33 shots. Seven different players hit at least one 3 and carrying over some of that shooting to today’s game would go a long way towards keeping the Lakers in the game offensively.
- Control the backboards, particularly in lineups that Zubac plays. Without Serge Ibaka today, I’ll be very interested to see if Ty Lue tries to start a small lineup or if he trots out big Zu with the first 5. If it’s the latter, Marc will have his hands full, but it will put him in a better individual matchup than having to track a shooter like Serge in their 5-out sets. If Marc can battle on the glass (something he did very well on Friday) and play his typical level of defense, it will really help the Lakers overall.
- Get at least one or two big scoring nights out of Kuz, Dennis, and Trez. And if you can get all 3 going, even better. The Clippers are, over the course of the year, one of the best offensive teams in the league, but a middle of the pack defensive one. The Lakers will need to put points on the board and that means having your best scorers playing well.
Again, the Clippers are the better team today. They should win this game. But if they don’t…
Where you can watch: 12:30pm start time on ABC and Spectrum SportsNet.