LeBron James’ drama surrounding his future and commitment to Los Angeles. Russell Westbrook is a shell of his former MVP self and never fit into Frank Vogel’s system. Anthony Davis, Paul George, and Kawhi Leonard are all on the shelf nursing various injuries of Lakers vs Clippers.
This battle of L.A. went from star-studded to star-dudded in a hurry.
And yet, for the second time in less than a week, the Lakers vs Clippers will be featured in a primetime matchup on a national telecast 10 pm EST on TNT. Why? Gluttons for City of Angel punishment? Take a breather after an actual compelling matchup between the Celtics and Grizzlies preceding it on Turner? Maybe it’s just because this Lakers season has become a train wreck, and viewers just can’t look away.
This version of the Lake Show has been a must-see, if only to see how bad it can continue to get. The front office inexplicably stood pat at the trade deadline despite reports of numerous deals being on the table.
Releasing DeAndre Jordan and subsequently signing D.J. Augustin and Wenyen Gabriel won’t do anything to move the needle, so what you see is what you get. LeBron, Russ, and Carmelo Anthony can’t carry teams as they used to, and New Orleans just blew them out, the closest team on their heels in the West.
Fortunately for them, the Blazers, Spurs, and Kings are in rebuilding or transition mode, so the Lakers should be able to hold on to one of the final playoff spots. But the inevitability of an early exit is staring them right in the face.
The shine of the Clippers’ appeal wore off with the injuries to Kawhi and George, but Ty Lue has overachieved without one of the NBA’s best tandems in his lineup. The Clips have won all three meetings against their cross-hall rivals this season (by a combined eight points) and have won six straight overall going back to last year.
George had an MRI last week that revealed progress on his injured shoulder, but there is still no timetable on a return. The Clips entered the year with title aspirations after a trip to the Western Conference Finals last year, but that has become a pipe dream thanks to the injury bug.
Will the odds makers shift their philosophy this time around? You’d think after six wins in a row against the same team, you might get some respect, but the Lakers have been favored in all three meetings this season, albeit with short lines in each.
After Thursday’s matchup, the Clippers will have played the Lakers and Rockets exclusively over their last five games, which tends to make things easier. If Johnny Linemaker continues to make the Lakers the favorites, take the points and run to the window. Consider the moneyline for a slightly bigger payout as well. This team has no business laying points to anyone, even a squad without a household name in its lineup.