by Chris Camello (@Chris_Camello)/ Nick Hamilton (@NickHamiltonLA)
LOS ANGELES — While most people are presently in Halloween mode, NBA fans are joyous because Christmas is coming on October 22 when the Lakers and Clippers face off on Opening Night at Staples Center.
The longtime hallway rivals had impressive summers adding superstar talents to their respective squads and contributing to the seismic shift of the NBA landscape.
Both the Lakers and the Clippers will now give each other an early test on Opening Night while giving Angelenos and the league an early gift. Both teams have high expectations for the season and it’s an opportunity to see where they are at.
For the Lakers, this game will be about how great Anthony Davis and LeBron James can be on the floor together, and if they can create that devastating mismatch against a good defensive team like the Clippers.
This will also be a chance to see how well the Lakers can be defensively with an older roster and if their three-point shooting is on the upswing.
For the Clippers, their goal will be to impose their will defensively on the Lakers. Obviously, reigning NBA champion, Finals MVP, and So Cal native Kawhi Leonard will draw the anticipated matchup against James and maybe even Davis at times. Leonard has proven he can control the game on both ends but that will be a tough task against two of the best in the league.
James, Davis, Danny Green, and Dwight Howard is a great start, but the Lakers may not get much defense out of anyone else. However the Clippers will have a dynamic trio in Leonard, George and Pat Beverley, that most teams don’t want to see in the regular season let alone playoff time. Lets not forget the defense and energy of Montrezl Harrell to shore it all up.
The Clippers also hope their youth, speed, depth, and continuity create problems for a Lakers team still trying to figure things out.
Not having Kyle Kuzma for the Lakers (stress reaction in left foot) and Paul George for the Clippers (right shoulder surgery) takes some of the air out of this much anticipated matchup.
Therefore, this won’t be a true measuring stick. That will hopefully come on Christmas Day when both Kuzma and George are back and really give L.A. fans a true Christmas gift (assuming everyone else is healthy).
This is still an appetizer of a new historic chapter for the Lakers and Clippers hallway rivalry, perhaps the most captivating because both teams have the potential to be contenders for years, a gift that keeps on giving.
If these two teams can remain healthy long enough to make a strong playoff push towards the Western Conference Finals, then not only will the NBA benefit, but the fans, networks, and Staples Center will indeed have a successful 20th year anniversary.
Los Angeles will be the new capital of basketball for the next few years, which will be a serious problem for teams not named the Clippers or Lakers.