The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Los Angeles Clippers in their return to meaningful basketball.
The Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers helped welcome back the NBA as part of a doubleheader live from the Orlando bubble at Disney World. In the first meaningful Lakers basketball game in months, the purple and gold emerged victorious over their Western Conference foes.
The game was a back and forth affair and was a likely preview of the Western Conference Finals. It came down to the wire, but when it mattered most, LeBron James made a putback two after his own miss and followed suit with lockdown defense on both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George in the final possession of the game.
Just like the two straight wins over the Milwaukee Bucks and Clippers right before the hiatus, this was a statement win. The Los Angeles Lakers are legitimate contenders.
While that undoubtedly is true, this first game back in action does not really mean anything for the NBA Playoffs. The Clippers still present the Lakers with their toughest challenge in the West and Laker fans should not get too overly confident after this win.
Why this Los Angeles Lakers win means nothing for the playoffs
Before we dive into that part of the discussion, by all means, celebrate this win. It always feels great to beat the Los Angeles Clippers, especially after dropping the first two regular-season matchups to the team.
This evens up the season series and just like I said back when the Clippers won two in a row against the Lakers earlier in the year: that does not mean much for the playoffs. The playoffs are a completely different animal and every game between these two teams have been close; neither team has a clear and distinct advantage.
First of all, this game didn’t really mean anything for the Los Angeles Lakers’ place in the standings. The Lakers are the first seed in the Western Conference and it would have taken the Clippers going undefeated and the Lakers going 2-6 to lose the first seed.
This win does essentially guarantee that the Lakers will be the first seed but it was already a guarantee.
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Second of all, the Clippers were really short-manned. I know, I know, you have probably already heard this excuse 20 times from Clipper fans on Twitter, but it is the reality. The Clippers were without their two best bench players in Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell, with Harrell especially being a big loss as he is their only really talented big.
Yes, the Clippers are without Avery Bradley and Rajon Rondo, but Williams and Harrell are more important to the Clippers than Bradley and Rondo are for the Lakers. Plus, the team will still be without Bradley in the playoffs, the Clippers will have both Williams and Harrell.
The Los Angeles Lakers did not play the same team that they are potentially going to play in the Western Conference Finals.
This is not to take away from the potential confidence that this win gave the Lakers and that could make a very small difference, but I doubt it. This is a Lakers team that would have been confident even if they lost this game.
The reality is that whichever way this game went, it would not have changed the Lakers’ chances in the playoffs. If the Lakers lost then I would like them just as much over the Clippers in the Western Conference. With them winning, I like them just as much, but not more than I did yesterday.
The reality of the situation is that this potential playoff series is going to be a war and is more than likely going to go all seven games. A return win is fantastic and should be celebrated, but it does not change that fact for the Los Angeles Lakers. (By the way, I have the Los Angeles Lakers winning the series in seven games).