It’s finally gameday!
Months of waiting through a long summer have finally climaxed with the Lakers finally squaring off against the Clippers tonight in the Staples Center, and it’s a game that features teams on two opposites ends of the spectrum. With the Lakers, you have a team certainly on the downward fall from their years as title contenders. Dwight Howard spurned them and left them in a state the franchise had never been before. While they made some bargain signings this off-season (Nick Young, Jordan Farmar at minimum, Chris Kaman at mini mid-level exception), they have tons of holes and no players to fill them.
The Clippers, however, are a team built to win now. They resigned superstar and franchise-star Chris Paul, went all in to “acquire” Doc Rivers from the Celtics, then dealt highly sought after guard Eric Bledsoe for J.J. Redick and Jared Dudley. Seen as one of the front-runners in the Western Conference, the city of Los Angeles might just belong to the Clippers unequivocally for the first time since moving to Los Angeles.
The Clippers are expected to trot out a lineup of Chris Paul, J.J. Redick, Jared Dudley, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan, a well-balanced lineup far better than anything the Lakers can put on the floor. Mike D’Antoni leaked his starting lineup of Steve Nash, Steve Blake, Nick Young, Shawne Williams, and Pau Gasol for opening night. By all accounts, the Clippers will have the advantage in terms of players, lineups, and coaching. That being said, the battle of attrition could favor the Lakers as they could conceivably go 10-deep in their rotation.
Steve Nash – Probable (neck) - Nash is the leader of the Lakers offense and the key to any possible “Showtime” comparisons, no matter how off-center they may be. A slew of injuries have slowed Nash down this preseason, limiting his minutes and time on the court with the starters. Nash’s status for the game tomorrow night is also uncertain, as will be the case for nearly all back-to-backs this season.
Chris Kaman – Probable (illness) - Kaman was sidelined for hte latter two of the Lakers preseason games with some type of stomach illness. However, the big man assured fans last night via Twitter that he’d be in uniform for the opener.
Kobe Bryant – Out (Achilles) - No matter how miraculous and quick Bryant’s recovery from an Achilles tear was, it was still not enough for him to be back by opening night. In reality, the status of his return is virtually unknown. Neither he nor the Lakers have revealed any type of timetable or schedule of any sorts for his return.
NUMBER OF THE NIGHT
0. As in the number of losses all-time the Lakers have over the Clippers in three season opening match-ups.
Though it may be a nickname of his soon, I’ll be looking at Xavier Henry. Henry was perhaps the Lakers brightest star this preseason given his expectations coming in. His ability to get to the rim is something the Lakers lacked last year and lack even this year. However, Henry has to prove he can consistently produce for the Lakers in order to stay in the rotation. Against one of the NBA’s best teams tonight will be a tough test, but a necessary one.
I’d like to remain positive about this game and the season in general, but I’m also one to remain realistic. Optimism says that this team has a bond and a unity that no Laker team in the last 3 or 4 years has had, and it’s very evident even in the preseason. Reality tells me that “bonds” don’t win games. This will be a fun team, but a bad one. Clippers win this one relatively easy, 104-95.