The NBA Western Conference is as stacked and talented as it has ever been before. The Suns, Jazz, Nuggets, and Blazers are all opponents to be feared, and any of them could make some real noise in the playoffs.
But to Sixers coach (and ex-Clippers coach) Doc Rivers, it's the two L.A. teams who control the West. According to him, they're still the teams to beat.
“Listen, Utah has been great. But I still think the Clippers and Lakers are still the teams to beat in the West,” Rivers said before the Clippers won their fifth straight with a 122-112 win over the Sixers.
Rivers admitted the observation was being made “from afar,” saying he doesn’t watch as many Western Conference games now that he’s on the East Coast. But, he said, “I don’t see anyone better than those two teams.”
The defending Champs entered the 2020-21 campaign as the favorites to win it all, and for good reason. The duo of LeBron and Davis proved to be unstoppable when it mattered most.
But between the many injuries they have endured all year long, their quest to repeat is questionable at best. Nobody knows when LeBron and AD will return, what they'll look like when they do, and if they'll be able to remain healthy throughout the postseason.
As for the Clippers, the talented and star-studded cast failed miserably last year, and many still aren't sold they can succeed with their current bunch.
No matter which way you look at it, there is enough reason to doubt. That doesn't mean, however, either team is incapable of proving everyone wrong -- or, in the case of Doc Rivers, proving him right. We'll just have to watch and see how it all plays out...