At the start of the season almost all of the betting on NBA markets was focused on who the winner would be this year. With both the Lakers and the Clippers making big moves over the off season, most people had them pegged as the two teams who would be fighting it out to win the playoffs. With the season up and running, what have we seen so far and who do we think will go the furthest in the playoffs this season?
The Lakers made a big change to their roster over the course of the off season. Bringing in Anthony Davis was a game changer for the Lakers this season, as it means some of the load has been taken off LeBron. The Lakers now have two players in their ranks who can change a game. It has arguably given LeBron the freedom to perform at a higher level this season than in past seasons when he was carrying the team on his back. Both men are hitting high point averages and LeBron has been hitting triple doubles like it is nothing. It is safe to say the Lakers are looking extremely strong.
It would be completely unfair to write off the Clippers though. They pulled off possibly the biggest shock of the off season when they brought in the catalyst for the Raptors playoff win, Kawhi Leonard. The Clippers made the playoffs last season but were dumped out in the first round by the Warriors. The addition of Leonard to their side should give them the added talent to go further in the playoffs this season, at the very least they will be going into the playoffs with a better seed than last year. Leonard is still putting in good numbers and has plenty of time to reach up to the career high totals he hit last season.
All in all, both sides are significantly improved over their iterations from last season, with both sides expected to easily make the playoffs, who is most likely to go furthest?
Both sides have players who can change games in their ranks. The Lakers obviously have LeBron and Davis. The Clippers have Leonard and George. The Clippers are a much more formidable side than the one that managed to grab a win against the Warriors last season, but so are the Lakers. While both sides can undoubtedly turn a game on its head at a moments notice, you have to give the slight edge to the Lakers, purely for the LeBron factor. He might not be at his absolute peak anymore, but there is no-one who has been there and done that playing the game today like LeBron has.
That does not mean that Leonard and George should be discounted though. Leonard managed to almost single handedly win the playoffs for the Raptors last season. The game against the Bucks in the playoff finals was especially impressive as he was against arguably the best player in the NBA right now, Giannis. The simple fact is that both of these sides have the ability to win games even when they have failed to play well as a team. This is why it is so hard to pick between the two sides overall.
Who will go furthest in the playoffs?
As we have already mentioned, it is incredibly hard to pick between the two sides. The Lakers probably have the strongest roster in the entire Western Conference but the Clippers are not far behind. It has to be said that the Lakers would be the sensible pick to go furthest out of both teams. There are two main reasons behind this.
The first is that the Lakers are most likely to be seeded better than the Clippers in the playoffs. That will give them the easier run to the Conference finals. With that easier run it will take less out of them physically and mentally than it would the Clippers. This means that when both sides meet, the Lakers will be in better shape and should hold the advantage.
On top of this there is the LeBron factor. Say what you want about him not being as good as he was, he is still a match winner. Not only that, but his experience will be vital for the rest of the team. If they are panicking and beginning to lose their grip on games, LeBron will know how to calm things down and keep them level headed. Having LeBron on the roster is the main reason why the Lakers will go further in the playoffs than the Clippers this season.