Los Angeles Clippers at Los Angeles Lakers
October 29, 2013
7:30 p.m. PST
It’s here. It’s time. No more preseason games. No more listless contests that extend into meaninglessness for 48 minutes. We have real, live basketball for the first time since June. So now, let’s get onto the first 3-on-3 of the 2013-14 regular season:
1. Should the Clippers cover the Lakers’ banners and should Nick Young be so offended by this?
Patrick James, (@patrickmjames): Of course they should cover the banners. They should have been doing so since 1999, when both teams arrived at Staples. As for Nick Young, well, his indignation isn’t particularly swaggy.
Jovan Buha (@jovanbuha): Yes to the first part of the question, and no to the second. During the time that Staples Center is the Clippers’ arena – they pay for that time slot, after all – they are free to do whatever they want with the Lakers’ banners. If covering up the banners makes the arena feel more homely, I don’t see a problem with it. As for Young, he has every right to his opinion, but he’s technically never played an official game for the Lakers (and may only play one season for them), so I don’t think see why he would be so offended.
Seerat Sohi, (@DamianTrillard): Here’s the situation: The Clippers are up by 12 against the Lakers with just under three minutes to go. Nick Young gets ready to check back in. He pauses, for a moment, and looks to the sky. Inwardly, he kisses his fist and points his finger upwards in an ode to Jamaal Wilkes, the wayward scorers’ NBA spirit animal. A minute later, the Lakers are down just three points and Doc Rivers requests a full timeout.
2. What’s the key matchup in this game?
James: Griffin vs Gasol: the star forwards at opposite ends of their careers have wonderfully different skill sets – apart from their mutually superb passing abilities – but are both a little underappreciated. It’s always fun when these opposing forces collide.
Buha: Pau Gasol vs. whoever defends him (Blake Griffin or DeAndre Jordan). At this point, we have no idea if the Lakers will be starting a big (Chris Kaman) or small (Shawne Williams) lineup, although Mike D’Antoni’s recent comments point toward the latter. Either way, Gasol is the only potential matchup advantage the Lakers would have over the Clippers, and him having a big game is their only shot at sneaking a victory.
Sohi: I’m foraging through my head to come up with an interesting—or even watchable— matchup and I’m at a loss. I guess the front court battle could be interesting. The Lakers are going to rely heavily on Pau Gasol while Kobe mends his torn achilles. On the other side, we’ve got Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan waiting for Chris Paul to slice through the Lakers’ non-existent defense. That may not leave much room for competition, but it should at least produce some of the highlight reels we’ve missed for so long.
3. How many games do the Clippers win this season?
James: 58. I’d love for it to be higher, but I just don’t see it happening in such a competitive Western Conference. I could even see the team finishing with fewer wins than last year being significantly better.
Buha: This is the million-dollar question (literally, if you’re betting a lot of money on the Vegas over/under). I’ve fluctuated between 57 and 60 wins in all of my predictions, but I think 58 is the safest bet. A two-win improvement may not sound like much over last season, but I think the Clippers will boast a more complete and impressive overall record.
Sohi: 59. I’d like to say more but the Clippers are acclimating themselves to a new coach who brings with him a new philosophy and system, two starters and some rotational bench players. In reality, this team should be more than just three wins better than last year’s squad but some growing pains are inevitable. Not to mention, the West is so competitive this year that a team like the Grizzlies will probably start the first round of the playoffs on the road.