The Los Angeles Lakers enter the Orlando bubble as the team to beat. However, it’ll likely go down to whether they can get past a fully-healthy Clippers team in the playoffs, assuming they match up on the Western Conference Finals.
That has been the narrative since the start of the season. The Clippers have more depth and talent but the Lakers have developed impressive chemistry and, well, they have LeBron James and Anthony Davis leading the way, so there’s that.
Nevertheless, Charles Barkley’s still not completely sold on the purple and gold. But, assuming they go the distance, he thinks it’ll be because of Anthony Davis, not LeBron, as he recently claimed on Colin Cowherd’s show:
“I love LeBron and everything about him, but it’s going to come down to Anthony Davis. Nobody in the NBA can match up with Anthony Davis. To me, he’s going to be the guy who’s going to dictate whether the Lakers win the championship or not,” the former NBA MVP said.
Barkley went on to laud LeBron’s game but showed his concern because of how physically demanding a matchup with the Clippers would be on a seven-game series, especially with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George suffocating him all night. Davis, on the other hand, has an edge over anyone the Clippers throw at him, as per Barkley:
“LeBron’s an older guy he’s going to play defense, he ain’t going to get no nights off if they play the Clippers. They got a two-headed monster that can guard him. But nobody on that clippers team can handle Anthony Davis. If the Lakers win the championship it’s going to be because of Anthony Davis,” he added.
Chuck has a valid point here. It’s not a secret that Kawhi and George are one of the few people that do a pretty good job guarding LeBron James. It’s also true that Ivica Zubac, JaMychal Green, Montrezl Harrell, or an older version of Joakim Noah just can’t stop Anthony Davis.
Even so, let’s not ignore the fact that James has had 4 months to heal his body, he’s averaging almost 26 points and 11 assists per game, and he’s one of the greatest playoff performers of all time, 35 years old or not.