The Los Angeles Lakers start the regular season on Tuesday, and it’s a mad dash from that point on. The first four nights of the season feature three elite opponents: the LA Clippers, the Golden State Warriors, and the San Antonio Spurs. If any of these three teams win the Western Conference this season, hardly a soul would bat an eye.
The Lakers are back on Tuesday night, and the NBA marathon season starts with a full sprint for the home team. One week from Opening Night, the Lakers will jog onto the court for their fifth contest. A month from Opening Night, LA will be taking the floor for its 17th game of the season...
Before getting too far ahead, though, the Lakers have a rather daunting task of debuting the new squad against Doc Rivers’ Los Angeles Clippers.
As coach of the hated Boston Celtics, Rivers defeated the Lakers in the 2008 NBA Finals and helped the Celtics win their 17th championship. Half of Los Angeles just held its stomach after recalling that painful June. Now, Rivers replaces Vinny Del Negro with the Clippers.
With Del Negro at the helm, the Clippers slaughtered the Lakers last season. All four games in the “Battle for LA” finished with the Clippers celebrating at the final buzzer. This season, Rivers brings a championship edge to the Clippers that has several experts picking them to finish top of the Western Conference (USA Today’s Sam Amick told me he picked the Clippers to win the title).
Ignoring talk of all the banners and off-court distractions, the Lakers are serious underdogs at home on Opening Night.
Still, the opener against the Clippers probably features the most winnable game of the Lakers’ opening set. Facing the Golden State Warriors in Oakland on the second night of a back-to-back is tall order, and facing the defending Western Conference Champion San Antonio Spurs after running up-and-down with the Warriors is simply a treacherous way to start the season.
That said, the NBA season is not played on paper, and the Lakers had a promising preseason. If the season was played on paper, the Lakers would have won the title last season. They didn’t. This year is a blank sheet, so get ready for 82 games of LA Lakers basketball. The Lake Show is back.
The Clippers at Lakers tips off the season on Tuesday night at 7:30pm PST.