We already knew that every game between the two NBA teams in Los Angeles would be a heavyweight event just based on the fact that they’re two contenders who share an arena, and when you add in Kawhi Leonard picking Paul George and the Clippers over LeBron James, Anthony Davis and the Lakers in free agency, every showdown should be ripe with drama.
The league office has seemingly realized that, and will have the two cross-hall juggernauts battle on a few of the biggest nights of the season, as a day after it leaked that the Lakers would be playing the Clippers on Christmas Day, Shams Charania of The Athletic is also reporting that the two teams will face each other on opening night:
Expected opening night of 2019-20 NBA season: Oct. 22, sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) August 3, 2019
Planned games for opening night: Los Angeles Lakers/LA Clippers and Toronto Raptors/New Orleans Pelicans.
Okay, before we get to Lakers-Clippers, can we just stop for a second and point out how funny it is that the NBA scheduled the two teams to have the biggest stars spurn them this summer to play against each other on opening night. I know it will likely be ring night for Toronto, and Zion Williamson’s NBA debut, but man, somehow that game still will have sad vibes.
But as to the Lakers and Clippers, both teams have genuine aspirations of winning an NBA title this year. While both will also likely not go “all out” during the regular season as they load-manage their stars while trying to peak around playoff time, it’s safe to guess that match-ups against each other will bring out their best.
The whole “Battle for L.A.” thing is a bit of a misnomer, because for the foreseeable future, the Lakers will always own the majority of the hearts and minds in Los Angeles. Love of the purple and gold is ingrained in the culture, just look at every Clippers star ever getting booed at Dodgers games, or the Lakers getting better ratings than the Clippers locally even during their worst and best years in franchise history, respectively. The fact this will reportedly be a Clippers home game adds a bit of extra flare:
Sources confirm that tentative plan is Clippers and Lakers will meet opening night Oct. 22 at Staples Center. It will be Clippers home game. Here we go: Kawhi/PG and LeBron/AD #NBAhoops— Brad Turner (@BA_Turner) August 3, 2019
We’ve seen Lakers fans swarm Clippers home games in the past and turn it into one of those weird atmospheres where the home team is getting hyped by the PA announcer and in-arena people, but booed by the fans. Could Leonard and George be greeted with boos in their first official nights wearing Clippers uniforms? It’s not out of the realm of possibility, and will be a real welcome to the dynamics of Los Angeles fandom.
That noted, none of this matters much on the court. Multiple players on both sides have already talked up how excited they are to fight for the on-court supremacy in the city, and it’s going to be fun to watch them do so, especially with a raucous crowd in attendance.
How will the two teams match-up? Will Leonard and George be able to make James work for it? Do the Clippers have anyone that can slow Davis? All these questions and more will be answered between the lines, with our first hints coming on the first night of the season.
Now this is going to be FUN.
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