The Clippers open the season with the expectations and pressure we are used to seeing put on their cross town rival Lakers.
Championship or bust. We have been talking about the past few years of how the Clippers are the favorites or that they have the most talented team, but have yet to even make the finals. Due in large part to the massive injuries the team has faced with Kawhi Leonard missing the entire season last season with a knee injury and Paul George missing a huge part of last season.
This season they bring back a healthy and hungry Kawhi Leonard, added John Wall who haven’t played in an actual NBA game in years, who happens to look rejuvenated, and just as lighting quick as he was pre injury.
John Wall is the answer to what the Clippers have been lacking the last few seasons and that is a great playmaker. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are both underrated playmakers, the problem is, both Kawhi and PG-13 are top tier defenders, and both are top tier scorers as well, and play making is a responsibility they could use great help in.
Kawhi Leonard has put himself on a minutes restriction. He requested to play 21-25 minutes per game, deciding to come off of the bench. With Leonard and Wall coming off the bench to start the season, that gives the Clippers the very best bench in basketball.
The Clippers came out swinging taking an early lead, but behind Lebron James and Anthony Davis’ strong play, the Lakers tied the game up at 56 all at the half. Looked like the Lakers have turned a corner.
The Lakers played well in the first half against Golden State opening night, and fell apart in the third quarter. The Warriors are a third quarter team, so It wasn’t a huge surprise. The Lakers went up 63-61 at the start of the third, but the Clippers countered with a 17-0 run that put them up for good, as they cruised past the Lakers.
The final score was 93-87 but the final score isn’t indicative at all of where these two teams are. Kawhi finished with 14 points and 7 rebounds in 2 minutes, Paul George didn’t shoot it well but also had 15 points 10 boards and 4 assists while John Wall added 15 points 4 rebounds and 3 assists.
Outside of the big 3, the Clippers got 11 points on 3-3 from 3 point range from Luke Kennard, 14 points from Marcus Morris and 14 points and 17 big rebounds from Zubac. The Lakers were paced by Anthony Davis’ 25 points but he got out rebounded by Zubac 17-8. Lebron 20 points 10 boards and 6 assists but only shot 7-17 from the floor, 2-8 from three, and 4-6 from the line.
He talked about the Lakers not having shooters, but Lebron is struggling from the floor himself going 5-18 from three over the first two games of the season. Outside of Lebron and Anthony Davis, the Lakers did not get much positive contribution.
Walker had 26 points but shot 9-21 from the floor. How did he shoot the ball more than Lebron and AD? Russel Westbrook had one of his worst games of his career, after having a great debut, with 2 points, 4 assists and 3 boards, going 0-11 from the field and 0-6 from three.
He continues to put up a lot of three point shots, knowing he is historically a horrible 3 point shooter. The Lakers did show promising defensive effort in this game, which they will try to build on, however, their offense has a lot of issues, with no shooters around the big 3 and two of the three being not so great shooters themselves.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out. From what we know right now, the Clippers are in championship or bust mode, the Lakers are just trying to make the playoffs and rely on having one of the greatest players ever in Lebron James guide them to another title.