The 16-time NBA Champions versus the 0-time NBA Champions. The rivalry of Los Angeles has been around since 1984 when the Clippers moved to Los Angeles from San Diego.
Since 1999 the pair have both played homecourt in the legendary Staples Center, with the Lakers having much of the success with their 5 NBA rings in the last 2 decades.
Due to the Coronavirus global pandemic, the two sides have only met each other 3 times during the regular season, with the Lakers surprisingly only winning one of these three matchups.
To begin the debate between the two sides, we’re going to talk about the ‘Superstars’ of the two teams.
The L.A Lakers currently have both LeBron James and Anthony Davis at the core of their roster. LeBron is considered to be one of the greatest players of all time by many and this season has been influential for the Lakers averaging 25.7 PPG and 10.6 APG at the age of 35 years old. This impressive play has helped the team to become the top seed in the Western Conference.
Meanwhile, Anthony Davis has contributed greatly to the Lakers' success averaging an impressive 26.7 PPG and 9.4 RPG, just below a double-double a game for the Lakers. The dynamic duo has successfully turned things around for the Lakers who are looking like a serious title contender this year (whenever the NBA commences once again) in comparison to previous years.
For the Clippers, both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George have helped to produce a Championship-caliber team who currently sit second in the West, just behind the Lakers. Kawhi came to L.A in the offseason just after bringing the Toronto Raptors their first NBA title during his only season there. During his time in L.A, Kawhi has featured in 51 games for the Clippers this year and averaged a healthy 26.9 PPG throughout these games along with his lockdown defense for the team.
George on the other hand has only featured in 42 games this season for the L.A side due to various injuries holding him back. However, his time on the court has been productive as he has managed to average 21.0 PPG during an average game time of 29.1 minutes per game.
Without a doubt, both sides in L.A have impressive Stars in their rosters, but you have to feel the Lakers take the lead here as the duo of Anthony Davis and LeBron James have been exceptional so far this season.
When you compare the starting line ups of the two sides, one would probably agree that the Lakers boast the stronger starting-five. With LeBron and Anthony Davis complimented by Avery Bradley, Danny Green and JaVale McGee, the Lakers have one of the strongest starting teams in the league that contains both great shooting and defensive abilities.
The Lakers have excelled so far in the NBA ranking 7th in points per game as a team with 114.3 PPG. This success can be accredited much to the starting five of the Lakers who have gelled well together as a team showing great chemistry. This success on the court has left the Lakers perched atop the Western Conference with a 49 W - 14 L record.
For the Clippers, a healthy starting five would consist of Patrick Beverly, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Marcus Morris Sr. and Ivica Zubac. Unfortunately, this isn’t the starting five we get to witness on the court every night as injuries have been a thorn in the Clippers’ side so far this season.
The Lakers arguably have the better starting five when both sides are healthy and this shows us why they sit atop the Western Conference with only 19 games remaining in the regular season and a playoff spot already clinched.
Lakers Bench vs. Clippers Bench
Both sides offer impressive benches with important role players. The Lakers have former All-Stars Rajon Rondo (Let’s not forget just how good ‘Playoff Rondo’ can be) and Dwight Howard to offer support to their 2nd unit as well as key role players like Markieff Morris and Kyle Kuzma to name but a few. All these names help to bolster the squad in times of need because as we all know the NBA regular season is a long and grueling 82-game span where all help is needed in order to make it to the playoffs and clinch a high seed.
However, the Clippers also have quite a strong team with impressive depth. Players such as Reggie Jackson, Montrezl Harrell and especially the 3-time sixth man of the year Lou Williams feature in the Clippers roster. This impressive squad has worked as a unit to lead the Clippers to a 44-20 record in the NBA, even with both Leonard and George missing some game time this season due to injury.
As a result of this, you have to praise the entire Clippers' side for their success, even when the ‘Stars’ of the team have been sidelined due to injury. In a tough Western Conference, the Clippers sit in second place, just below the Lakers.
Frank Vogel vs. Doc Rivers
The L.A Lakers have Frank Vogel at the wheel of the team this season, coming in to replace Luke Walton who managed three disappointing seasons with the franchise before his departure.
Vogel has proven himself in the past leading the Indiana Pacers to two back-to-back Eastern Conference Finals. However, in both Eastern Conference Finals, LeBron James who led the Miami Heat at the time, inevitably knocked the Pacers out in both 2013 and 2014.
Now, Vogel has the chance to coach LeBron and it will be interesting to observe just how well the pair can do together in the future.
The Clippers find themselves being coached by Doc Rivers. Doc has been in command of the Clippers since 2013 and he has had the opportunity to mentor many great players in the past with talents such as Chris Paul and Blake Griffin manning the white, red and blue of the Clippers.
With this fresh and exciting squad, it’s Doc’s chance to try and lead the side to their first NBA Championship. Rivers has had success in the past during his coaching career as he had a total of 1060 wins and 587 losses during his time with both the Boston Celtics and the Orlando Magic. Along with this, Rivers was also voted the NBA’s ‘Coach of the Year’ during the 1999-2000 season. Doc led the Boston Celtics to an NBA Finals victory in 2008 where they overcame the L.A Lakers, a side he’ll be hoping to overcome again.
Now Doc has the chance to lead the ‘other’ L.A side to their first title with the help of Kawhi, Paul George and the entire Clippers roster.
Both these sides share the Staples Center as their home when playing in the NBA. However, when you look in the rafters and witness the numerous accolades that hang baring the purple and gold of the Lakers, it is clear that the Staples Center is truly home to only one team - the L.A Lakers.
The Lakers would take the advantage here over the Clippers as the Staples Center is home to one of the greatest franchises in the world, not just in the NBA.
With all things taken into account, my opinion is that the Lakers would come out on top in a seven-game series between the two sides. Even with the leadership skills of Kawhi, I still believe LeBron would have the ability to ensure the Lakers come out on top.
It looks like we’ll get the opportunity to see the two sides matchup in the Western Conference Finals – when the NBA resumes. This would definitely prove to be an exciting bout between the two sides if both teams were to enter the series with healthy squads.
In my opinion, I believe that LeBron James and the Lakers will take the victory in the series. Our prediction here is a 4-3 series win for the L.A Lakers in the battle of the Staples Center, something that I hope we get to witness sooner rather than later.