Last night's L.A. showdown between the Clippers and the Lakers taught the entire NBA Universe a lot about what to expect in the playoffs. The Lakers scraped through a 103-101 victory over the Clippers thanks to a LeBron James put-back game-winner.
The Lakers are clearly an impressive team and are the main contenders to beat as the Road to the NBA Finals begins. The Clippers showed a lot of positive signs last night but were clearly not at full speed as they were missing key pieces including Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell.
Nonetheless, the Lakers are the team to beat, and here are the five reasons why they will beat the Clippers in the NBA playoffs.
5. Lou Williams And Clippers Chemistry
The Los Angeles Clippers were not at their best last night. They were missing Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell and were forced to play deep in their bench with the likes of Reggie Jackson and Joakim Noah getting minutes. Jackson (10 points, 6 rebounds) was decent last night, but the Clippers need to have all their pieces on the same page if they wish to keep up with the Lakers.
There were rumblings earlier on in the season that Clippers players were getting a bit annoyed with how Paul George and Kawhi Leonard were given special treatment, and there simply cannot be any forms of poor chemistry if they want to win the title. The Lakers team gets along well with each other and the Clippers must be united as well. Lou Williams's missing time outside of the bubble to visit a strip club certainly did not help the chemistry, and Doc Rivers did not seem too happy about it either.
4. Lakers Bench Is Better Than We Thought
The Los Angeles Lakers bench is much better than we thought. Dion Waiters has proven to be an excellent signing based on his performance last night (11 points). He was aggressive at attacking the basket and clearly adds another scorer to the team that they lacked.
JR Smith is also a player that can score the ball, and he has previously played with LeBron James with the Cavaliers. Even without Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley, the Lakers have enough contributing pieces off the bench.
Even the likes of Dwight Howard and Kyle Kuzma (16 points last night) provided scoring bursts and played solid defense. There was much talk about the Clippers' depth, but the Lakers might have a bench that is just as good.
3. Lakers Have The Best Chemistry In The League
The Los Angeles Lakers have the best chemistry in the league. LeBron James is the best leader in the NBA and Anthony Davis is extremely motivated to win. Davis is the best big man in the NBA and LeBron is probably the best overall player in the league. The fact that they are leaders of the team makes everyone else fall in line, and they truly seem to get along with each other.
The Lakers chemistry is similar to the Boston Celtics chemistry from 2008, in that everybody's on the same page with one goal in mind. Nobody in the NBA works harder than LeBron James, and the fact that a 35-year-old player is at the peak of his game is truly making a statement to the rest of the role players. If the Lakers click on all cylinders, they are lifting the NBA title without a doubt.
2. LeBron James Is Focused And He Wants 4th Ring
All season long, LeBron James has made it clear that he is focused and well-rested after last season's poor performance by the Lakers. LeBron is focused, motivated, and hungrier than ever. He has done a magnificent job of being the point guard for the Lakers and is leading the NBA in assists per game with 10.5. Nobody can distribute the ball like he can, because he has the brute force and aggression to attack the paint and find open men for shots.
Even last night when he wasn't a major contributor in the points department, he ran the show and he made the Lakers click on all ends by leading both teams in rebounds (11) and assists (7). If LeBron can continue being the best point guard in the NBA as the playoffs approach, the Lakers will be primed and ready to lift the NBA title with Anthony Davis as the main scorer.
1. LeBron James And Anthony Davis Are The Best Duo In The League
Last night taught us what we probably already knew. LeBron James and Anthony Davis are the best duo in the NBA. Davis had a game-high 34 points while LeBron James ran the show as the best point guard in the game. As good as Paul George looked last night with his 30 points and Kawhi turned it on a bit as a game progressed to the final stages, it was all about LeBron and especially Anthony Davis.
Davis is the best big man in the game and he absolutely dominated last night. If he plays like this throughout the remainder of the playoffs, Lakers are the team to beat. LeBron is the best point guard in the NBA and there is really no stopping him when he is at full force, and his pairing with AD makes the Lakers the favorites right now.