The Los Angeles Clippers and defending NBA Champion Los Angeles Lakers kickstart the 2020-21 season just over two months since the Lakers captured the NBA crown in the Orlando bubble. Tuesday night’s matchup marks the only time the two star-studded teams will face each other in the regular season. Tip-off is scheduled for 10 p.m. EST inside the STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, CA. The defending champion Lakers are a 2.5-point favorite in the season opener, according to oddsmakers.
What to Know – Los Angeles Clippers
After a surprising exit in the conference semifinals to the Denver Nuggets, the Los Angeles Clippers enter the new season under new head coach Tyronn Lue. Lue was an assistant under former head coach Doc Rivers and previous head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Clippers were relatively quiet in the short offseason but did sign veteran big man Serge Ibaka. Montrezl Harrell, the team’s third-leading scorer, was a free agent, and the Clippers’ front office elected not to bring him back, so he signed with the cross-city Lakers.
Superstars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George return for the Clippers, along with Marcus Morris and reserve Lou Williams. Expect the Clippers to roll out a starting lineup of Patrick Beverly, Leonard, George, Morris, and Ibaka, with Williams, Luke Kennard, and Ivica Zubac providing depth off the bench.
The LA Clippers wrapped up the wild 2019-20 season with a 49-23 record and second-place finish in the Western Conference. Leonard (27.1 ppg) and George (21.5 ppg) led the team offensively that averaged 116.3 points per game, fourth-highest in the league.
What to Know – Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers took down the Miami Heat in six games to capture their first title in a decade and the franchises’ 17th championship all-time. Frank Vogel returns for his second season as head coach after capturing his first NBA championship.
LeBron James is back after being voted the NBA Final’s Most Valuable Player for the fourth time in his career. James, along with big man Anthony Davis provides a one-two punch that rivals Leonard and George of the Clippers.
Many of the support crew that helped propel the Lakers to a league title are gone, but analysts feel the Lakers upgraded their roster in the offseason. Harrell comes over from the Clippers and joins trade acquisition Dennis Schroder and free-agent signee Marc Gasol. The tentative starting five for the Lakers is projected to be James, Schroder, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Davis, and Gasol.
Los Angeles concluded last season with a 52-19 mark and top record in the Western Conference. The pair of Davis (26.1 ppg) and James (25.3 ppg) combined to average almost half of the team’s 113.4 per game average.
The Pick is In
Expectations are high for both these teams, and you’d expect the Clippers to enter with a bit of chip on their shoulder after being bounced by the Denver Nuggets in the second round of the playoffs. This will be a close contest between the two cross-town powerhouses but give us the Lakers by 4-5 points in this one.
The Pick: Los Angeles Lakers -2.5