Are the Clippers and Lakers ready for the NBA playoffs?
August 13, 2020
Ready or not the NBA playoffs start this weekend with the play-in game on Saturday against the eighth and ninth seeded teams in the Western conference at 11:30 a.m. in the Bubble. If the eighth seeded team wins they will face the No. 1 seeded Lakers next week. If the ninth seeded team wins they will play a second game on Sunday to determine who advances to play the Lakers.
The Clippers are the second seeded team in the conference and they will play the seventh seeded Dallas Mavericks next week. Because of the play-in game the Western Conference bracket has not been finalized although we do know that third place Denver will play sixth place Utah and fourth place Houston will take on fifth place Oklahoma.
At press time, (Wednesday) it appears the Lakers will play Portland who currently is in the eighth spot but that could change because Memphis, San Antonio and Phoenix are still in contention. The NBA finals start September 30.
To get to the finals the east and the west conferences will be battle tested. Both conferences have some very good teams led by the best players in the world. Luckily the Clippers and Lakers both have two superstars on their teams. The Clippers have Kawhi Leonard and Paul George and the Lakers have Anthony Davis and LeBron James.
"Now we can lock in on teams," said George after the Clippers beat the Denver Nuggets last Wednesday inside the NBA Bubble in Orlando, Florida. "There is no distractions and no outside noise. There is no extra confidence people gain from the fans. You have to show up and play ball. That's how I get down. I just want to hoop."
Clippers head coach Doc Rivers hopes all of his players are ready to get down to business and win a championship for the first time in Clippers history. "If you are good enough you will win," said Rivers last week.
Even with superstars Rivers knows it's a team game. "We just need to build continuity with our team. That's our focus. We want to keep guys healthy and we are looking for rhythm. We need to keep emphasizing sharing the ball because we have so many guys who can score."
Having so many offensive weapons may be enough to get them pass the very good teams in the West. JaMychal Green, Montreal Harrell, Reggie Jackson, Marcus Morris, Patrick Patterson, Landry Shamet, Lou Williams and the much improved Ivica Zubac can all score.
"It's important that we have a third target out there," said Lakers head coach Frank Vogel after Kuzma hit a game winning shot a few days ago. "Kuz is going to be an option but we are going to need all of our guys. We can't allow our two big guns to carry the load."
James has a feeling Kuzma is ready to do some big things. "I think durig the time we had off Kuz was able to get healthy and put in a lot of work and his confidence is soaring but more importantly defensively he has been locked in and he has taken the challenge on any given night and that's a step in the right direction."
James knows the playoffs are a different animal. The intensity level blows the roof off the arena. "There is a different type of preparation that's goes into a playoff game," said James this week during a zoom interview. "Mentally I am not in playoff mode but physically I feel like my legs are getting better and my game has improved and I am getting more and more comfortable in the Bubble.
"When we know who we are playing then you start to lock in on your opponent but you build good habits along the way. If the playoffs start tomorrow we would be ready."