One tanked, while the other toughened it out and had to go through a play-in game in order to make the playoffs.
That basically sums up how the Los Angeles Lakers and their cross-town rivals the Los Angeles Clippers ended up with their current choice of opponents and the way things are shaping up right now, it looks like the basketball gods are favoring one over the other.
CLIPPERS. Disappointed doesn’t even begin to cover it. No matter how the Clips denied they were avoiding Lebron James and the Lakers, it was crystal clear they purposely lost their last two games to avoid a potential first round match-up.
One damning piece of evidence was the Clips running their plays through the seldom used Daniel Otoru during their last game against the hapless Oklahoma City Thunder.
Remember that this is a guy who averaged only five minutes per game which they played for 37 minutes against OKC.
Apparently they were more comfortable and confident coming in as the 4th seed against the 5th seed Dallas Mavericks.
Big mistake. Just yesterday, Luka Doncic once again torched them for 39 big points on 16-29 from the field. Kawhi Leonard finally came alive with a huge game but his 41 points proved inadequate as his crime partner Paul George who contributed a decent 28 points went 1-7 from three-point range.
Basically, the Mavericks outshot the erstwhile best 3-point shooting team in the league and the Clips find themselves in a 0-2 hole.
Going back to last year’s playoffs, they are now on a five-game losing streak and things look bleak.
I always knew coming in that they should have gone for the 3rd seed as they matched up well against the Portland Trail Blazers whom they have dominated during the regular reason.
Purposely tanking into the 4th seed and hoping to go up against a peaking and supremely confident Luka Doncic was a terrible idea.
It’s a case of “beware what you wish for—you just might get it.”
LAKERS. In stark contrast, the spate of bad luck that befell the Lakers wasn’t of course their fault. Injuries to Lebron and Anthony Davis had them falling out of the standings and into the play-in tournament.
Undeterred, the Lakers didn’t shy away from the moment and when it mattered faced the supreme challenge of the Golden State Warriors and the streaking Steph Curry and prevailed.
Their reward was a matchup against the 2nd seeded Phoenix Suns and though on paper it looked like the Chris Paul-led Suns were really formidable, if you study the history between Lebron and Paul, the former has dominated his buddy every time they matched up.
After losing the first game, yesterday the Lakers evened up their series behind a strong bounce-back effort from Davis.
And as if the basketball gods decided to throw another bone the Laker’s way, it looks like Chris Paul isn’t healthy enough to last this series and without the latter, I don’t see how they survive the defending champions.
LAST ROUND. It’s on Joan Arcangel of the RTC Branch 24 who recently celebrated her birthday. Cheers!