It’s looking more and more likely that the LA Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers could meet in the first round of the playoffs. That might be an intimidating matchup for some, but the Clips should feel good about it.
The Clippers have performed well against the Lakers this season and last, and there’s nothing that particularly scares me about this matchup, no matter what round of the playoffs is takes place in.
If the LA Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers meet in the first round of the playoffs, the Clippers should feel great about their chances.
This season, the Clips have beaten the Lakers in both of the games they’ve played, although if we’re being totally fair, the Lakers were missing LeBron James and Anthony Davis in one game, and they were missing Jared Dudley in the other. Last season, the Clips went 2-2 in their season series against the Lakers.
This season, Paul George is averaging 24.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3 assists against the Lakers, and Kawhi Leonard is averaging 22.5, 6 and 5.5. Meanwhile, in the one game they played, LeBron put up 22, 5 and 5 against us, shooting just 41.2 percent from the field. Davis only managed 18, 7 and 2.
The long and short of it is that, if the Lakers and Clippers meet in the first round, I’m feeling good about the Clippers chances. But just how likely is that scenario? To start, per basketball-reference, the Clippers have the highest probability of finishing in the third seed, and the Lakers have the highest probability of finishing in the six seed.
The picture starts to clear up some after the Nuggets play the Knicks today. If New York wins, that puts Denver a full game behind the Clippers for the three seed, and the Clips would feel good about hanging onto that spot.
Tomorrow, the Lakers and Clippers play each other, and the Mavericks play the Nets. If Portland beats Cleveland today, that puts them just half a game behind the Lakers. Following that, if the Clippers should beat the Lakers tomorrow, Los Angeles and Portland would be tied in the standings.
That seems to be the most likely path to the Clippers and Lakers not playing in the first round. The Lakers could drop into the play in tourney, which is something they’ve been vocally afraid of. If that happens, the Clips and Lakers will have to wait a while to potentially see each other.
If the Lakers can fight to keep themselves out of the play in tourney and in the six seed, the Clips will likely be waiting for them. If that happens, I’m expecting an early exit for the Lakers.