With so much worldwide uncertainty, key questions also surround the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers’ Thursday matchup from Orlando.
Without burying the lede, Anthony Davis, Lou Williams, Patrick Beverley and Montrzel Harrell could each miss the marquee bubble opener. Obviously, Williams and Harrell are key pieces to the Clippers roster. However, their potential absences pale slightly compared with Anthony Davis not suiting up for the Lakers. After injuring his eye Saturday in a practice contest, Davis and his 26.7 ppg remain questionable as the Lakers carry their 5.5 game conference lead into the regular season’s final eight runs.
With little practice time it will be interesting to see how an LAL team definitely without Avery Bradley and Rajon Rondo -and potentially without Davis- will mesh. Volatile-yet-talented scorers Dion Waiters and JR Smith enter the LBJ-led fray as the Lakers hope to regain favored form in short order. Tonight should be a stern test.
The Clippers nip at their Staples Center co-occupant’s heels after winning seven-of-eight before Rudy Gobert tested COVID-19 positive. Now standing 44-20 and 5.5 games behind 49-14 LAL, the Clippers represent the biggest threat to LeBron and company. LAC holds a 2-1 current series advantage vs. the Lakers.
LAL enters today’s anticipated showdown at -4.5 favorite odds.
Clippers Seek 3-1 Regular Season Series Edge vs. LakersBefore the day the sporting world froze, Paul George and Kawhi Leonard broke dominant as the Clippers stormed through competition in what appeared a sure prelude to April and beyond. Los Angeles averaged 116.2 ppg and allowed 109.7 pre-shutdown. When adjusted for pace those numbers rank no. 4 and no. 13 respectively. Leonard averaged 26.9 ppg and George 21.0.
Further, depth played a key role in the Clipper’s initial 19-20 success as Doc Rivers never wanted for seasoned contributions. Montrezl Harrell (18.6 ppg) will be missed Thursday and Lou Williams and Landry Shamet remain day-to-day, but enough firepower remains to make LAC dangerous.
Even without Williams, the Clippers are one of the deepest teams in basketball. Whether they are ready to take on the Lakers and win the West will be one of the biggest questions of the re-start.
The Lakers Search For Chemistry After Key LossesThe Lakers combined restricting defense and timely offense while dominating the pre-COVID NBA scene. LeBron James imprinted his personality on a veteran group now missing key cogs Bradley and Rondo. As mentioned, there’s little time to find out if newly instated Dion Waiters and JR Smith can regain chemistry with erstwhile teammate James. The loss of veteran defenders and ball handlers could be enough to negatively alter Los Angeles’ budding championship hopes. Eight games after nearly four months away from action will give hints at how the Lakers will fare during a full postseason. Though, if Davis sits tonight, a seven-game series between Los Angeles’ titans will begin with several unanswered variables.
The Lakers average 114.4 ppg and allow 106.9. Per Basketball Reference, those numbers rank third and fifth overall.