The Lakers will play their fifth game of the season against their hallway counterparts, the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday. Yes, the same Clippers team that just acquired James Harden in a blockbuster trade deal with the Philadelphia 76ers.
Start time and TV schedule
Who: Los Angeles Lakers vs. L.A. Clippers
When: 7 p.m. PT, Wednesday, Nov. 1.
Where: Crypto.com Arena
Watch: ESPN and Spectrum Sportsnet
It may be a new season and fresh start for every team in the league but it’s hard to forget losing streaks, especially if it’s been going on for multiple years now. The Lakers have lost to the Clippers 11 straight times now and it’s about time they end this on Wednesday night.
Luckily for the purple and gold, they have multiple advantages on their side in this one. For one, the Clippers will be on the second night of a back-to-back after playing the Orlando Magic on Tuesday. So whether or not Paul George and Kawhi Leonard will suit up on Wednesday is reportedly still unclear.
Second, the Clippers just reportedly agreed to a big trade so there’s a good chance that this won’t be Harden’s first game as a Clipper. With the likes of Marcus Morris, Nicolas Batum, Robert Covington and KJ Martin no longer part of the team while Terance Mann continues to recover from an ankle injury, this is the most vulnerable state the Clippers have been in years against the Lakers.
That’s why there’s no better time for the Lakers to snap this losing streak than on Wednesday on their home floor. Even if Harden decides to suit up for this game, the Lakers have the advantage with their continuity and system. The Clippers, meanwhile, have to start from scratch as they start the process of incorporating Harden to the mix.
For the Lakers to win their second straight game, they have to do two things: Convert their three-pointers at a high rate and rebound the basketball.
The Clippers have long been daring the Lakers to shoot
A big reason why the Clippers have had the Lakers’ number in the regular season is because Ty Lue knows how to contain a team built around LeBron James and Anthony Davis. It’s not a coincidence that the Lakers haven’t defeated the co-tenants since Lue took over as head coach.
Lue makes it a point to dare the Lakers to beat them by knocking down their jumpers. Last season, the Lakers took the most 3-point attempts (45) in an October game against the Clippers and then attempted their 10th most 3-point shots (40) in a January contest against them.
With what used to be their heavy wing lineup, the Clippers would use their size and length to pack the paint and dare the Lakers to swing the ball and shoot perimeter shots, which the purple and gold could never capitalize on. That has to change this season.
After four games, the Lakers rank almost dead last in 3-point percentage at 28th as they’re shooting a whopping 29.2%. Most of that has a lot to do with Austin Reaves’ struggles to start the season and the Lakers guard rotation who have been mediocre at best from the perimeter.
Given that the Lakers have performed poorly from the perimeter to start the season, it won’t be a surprise to see Lue implement the same game plan he has over the past couple of years. It will be up to the Lakers to knock down their shots if they want to secure the victory.
The Lakers need to rebound the ball better
The Lakers were once again out-rebounded (44-40) in their last game against the Magic, who had two attempts to send the game to overtime because they were able to nab an offensive rebound. The Lakers’ rebounding issue is an early concern, especially when they deploy Davis at the five or utilize small ball lineups.
The team needs to do a better job boxing out and crashing the glass. In each of the past two games, the Lakers have given up 20 or more second-chance points. Whether that’s playing Christian Wood more — who has proven that he deserves more minutes — or utilizing bigger lineups, Los Angeles needs to rebound the ball better.
The Wood/LeBron/AD lineup is:— Jason Timpf (@_JasonLT) October 31, 2023
+10 in 7 minutes
Grabbing 55% of available rebounds
And most of those minutes are clutch situations.
If the Lakers convert most of their shots, defend well, win the rebound battle and play like they desperately want to snap their losing streak to the Clippers, there’s a good chance that they’ll be on a two-game winning streak after Wednesday night.
Notes and Updates:
- This preview wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Russell Westbrook, who will play against the Lakers for the second time on Wednesday as a Clipper. Obviously, both parties have moved on and are doing better without each other but there’s no doubt that this will still be a storyline on Wednesday night.
- The Clippers have won two of their first three games to start the season specifically against the rebuilding Portland Trail Blazers and San Antonio Spurs. It may be too early in the season, but the small sample data from NBA.com/stats suggest that they have the second-best offense in the league in the week of the regular season. However, this might not matter anymore after they made the trade to acquire Harden.
- As for the injury report, the Lakers list Jarred Vanderbilt (left heel bursitis) and Jalen Hood-Schifino (right patella contusion), Rui Hachimura is doubtful with a left eye contusion and Cam Reddish is probable with right foot soreness. Meanwhile, all three two-way players — Colin Castleton, Alex Fudge and D’Moi Hodge — are with South Bay.
You can follow Nicole on Twitter at @nicoleganglani