12:30 p.m. PT
It's a primetime Sunday game. It's a game where Steve Nash's status is currently unknown, though Mike D'Antoni was pessimistic during the Los Angeles Lakers' practice on Saturday. It's the Lakers taking on the Los Angeles Clippers in a Clippers themed party in Staples Center.
The Lakers are still holding onto the eighth seed after letting it slip away once. Their victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday was a fantastic win for the purple and gold. There was a semblance of a "Lakers defense" that decided to play, and while it still stumbled in areas it has all season, they looked like a team that understood defense needs to be played. They played it.
The Clippers will give the Lakers defense problems. Or, Chris Paul will give the Lakers problems. The point guard is going to pick at the Lakers' defense all night, surely, and it will be a great test of just how far the defense has come.
If Paul is utilizing the pick and roll, will Dwight Howard be able to dig in defensively and cut off his driving lanes? Will the Clippers choose to pick on Pau Gasol in the pick and roll, pulling him out to try staying in front of CP3? Will they simply using Paul in isolation against the likes of Steve Blake (and Nash, should his hip and hamstring decide to behave today), drive into the teeth of the defense, force Howard to help, and create havoc?
Really, that's what this game will be about. How will Paul attack, how will the Lakers respond. There are any number of ways the Lakers will attack the Clippers, but Paul is the lifeblood of the red and blue clad L.A. team. Mike Conley was able to get plenty of clean looks but couldn't finish and Paul is unlikely to be as merciful when he gets space.
A game like this is where the presence of Metta World Peace will certainly be missed. These L.A. teams have been chippy the past two seasons and having an enforcer like World Peace on the floor getting physical with Blake Griffin or whomever stands in his path is always a plus. Unfortunately Jodie Meeks pushing and shoving a player up simply doesn't have a similar effect.
Beyond this singular game, though, the Lakers playoff seeding is in the air once again. The Utah Jazz will also be playing in California Sunday as the Golden State Warriors play host. There are just six games remaining the regular season for the Lakers, each one incredibly important if they want to play beyond the April 17 expiration date. While the Clippers are already locked into the playoffs they are still fighting for positioning as well. They currently sit as the fourth seed but are only a game ahead of the Grizzlies. Home court advantage for the Clippers remains in the balance as they finish their season, giving them plenty to play for.
This is a great measuring stick for the Lakers, and another fantastic opportunity to see where their defense stands as the season concludes. The Clippers have won the three prior meetings against the Lakers, and just typing that a season-sweep may be in line is like nails on a chalkboard.
On This Soundtrack
2pac - To Live and Die in L.A.
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- The Clippers are having some internal problems of their own. Wonder what Clips Nation thinks of that.