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TV: FOX (US)
Clippers vs Lakers
Although it was questionable whether Lonzo Ball would start on Thursday night, the Lonzo era looks set to begin at the Staples Center against the Clippers. In Magic Johnson’s first full season as Head of Basketball Operations, can the young core of LA in Lonzo, Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle and others get the season off on the right track? Although most of the hype has been about the former UCLA star, Kyle Kuzma was the more impressive in the preseason. Whether his good run of form will continue in the regular season remains to be seen.
For the Clippers, although Chris Paul is a major loss, the team looks to have gotten deeper, acquiring Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, Sam Dekker and Montrezl Harrell in the trade with Houston, and also bringing in Danilo Gallinari and flashy point guard Milos Teodosic from the Euroleague. It will take time for all these new pieces to connect, yet we saw exciting flashes of what could be to come in the preseason. Many have counted the Clippers out for anything serious this season, but they’re definitely a potential dark horse in the Western Conference.
With Paul now gone, it’s up to Griffin to lead this team, both in the figurative sense, but also with his court play. As a talented point forward, he should look to have the ball in his hands more and get players involved, especially given the absence of any star guards on the team.
With a speedy and pass-first point guard in Ball, the Lakers should run the floor every time they grab a rebound, especially given the young talent on the floor. Teammates now know that if they break at pace in transition, Ball will find them. This will be a key weapon in the Lakers’ arsenal for this game, and the season.
The Staples Center will be rocking on Thursday night, and with that comes a lot of pressure. We already saw the crowds that flooded to the Summer League, and it will be on a much larger scale in this game. Making sure that the team doesn’t get caught up in the moment will be key for the Lakers, as this Clippers team is still no joke.