The Los Angeles Lakers didn’t have much time to celebrate the 17th NBA title in franchise history. They didn’t get a parade through downtown, either. They will raise the championship banner to the ceiling of Staples Center when they open the new season on Tuesday against the Los Angeles Clippers. Most expected to see this matchup in the Western Conference finals inside the Florida bubble, instead the Clips squandered a 3-1 series lead to the Nuggets and experienced a wild but short offseason that included the firing of Doc Rivers. The Lakers were favored to win the title last season and they delivered. They opened as the favorite to win it all again. Bookmaker.eu is offering a generous welcome bonus (max bonus $1000)
Los Angeles Clippers at Los Angeles Lakers
Date and Time: Tuesday, December 22, 2020, 10 p.m. ET
Location: Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
Opening NBA Odds: Lakers -2 / OU 222
Clippers vs. Lakers TV Coverage: TNT
Preseason games are meaningless so don’t read into the fact that the Lakers went 4-0 and beat the Clippers twice. Also, it’s tough to get a betting angle on games at the start of a season since there are so many variables that have to be taken into account. Both rosters have changed and the Clips have a new coach in Tyronn Lue. The Lakers opened as a slight 2-point favorite for the season opener. The Lakers won the last two games of last season’s series to gain a split, though the Clippers went 3-1 ATS in those games. If there was one trend we noticed from last season’s games it’s that the teams were more defensive. The winning team failed to score more than 112 points in any of the four games and they all cashed the UNDER. The total hit the board at 222.
Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers will have a different look and a different voice, but the goal remains the same as they look to overcome last season’s playoff debacle. Most had the Clippers locked into a conference finals matchup with the Lakers, only the Clips didn’t get the memo. They blew a 3-1 series lead to the Nuggets, which was unacceptable to ownership. Rivers was relieved of his duties and replaced by former assistant Lue, who won a title in Cleveland with LeBron James.
One reason why the Clippers went 49-23 to finish second in the West was the play of their bench. Montrezl Harrell was the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year last season averaging 18.6 points and 7.1 rebounds in nearly 28 minutes a game. Harrell joined the other side during the offseason leaving a void on the bench. Veteran Serge Ibaka, who averaged 15.4 points and 8.6 rebounds last season with Toronto, was signed to help fill the void. Lou Williams, who won the Sixth Man award two years in a row before Harrell, is back to claim his spot.
The Clippers will go as far as the duo of Paul George and Kawhi Leonard take them. PG13 was inconsistent during the postseason and his play had a lot to do with how the season ended. He averaged 21.5 points and 5.7 rebounds during the regular campaign but never got accustomed to the bubble situation. George and Leonard are motivated by last season’s disappointment to provide bigger things this season.
Los Angeles Lakers
Many feel the Lakers might be better than they were last season when they ended a six-year playoff drought by claiming their 17th NBA title, matching the Boston Celtics for the most all-time. The main core is back with LeBron, Anthony Davis and Kyle Kuzma. The team spent a lot of time last season looking for the right mix of complementary players swapping out roster spots all season. The front office did the leg work in the offseason bringing in Harrell, Dennis Schroeder, Marc Gasol and Wesley Matthews.
“It’s been a different training camp, to say the least, but for the time we’ve had, which hasn’t been that much, I feel like we’ve put in the work and gotten better,” James said of the Lakers roster.
James and Davis were one of if not the best duo in the NBA last season. I guess you could say they were the best since they won the ultimate prize. Father Time hasn’t caught up with James, who led the NBA with 10.2 assists while adding 25.3 points and 7.8 rebounds per game during last regular season. The numbers were even better during the postseason. Davis added an element of defense that fueled the Lakers posting 2.3 blocks per game. He also led the team averaging 26.1 points and 9.3 rebounds.
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Don’t expect a championship hangover from the Lakers this season, James won’t allow that to happen. But the Clippers have some work to do to erase that postseason meltdown and getting off to good start will go a long way toward easing their pain. And like I said, the preseason is meaningless.
NBA Score Prediction: Clippers 114, Lakers 109
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– Phil Simon, Gambling911.com