With the Lakers 0-2 heading into tonight's action against the Clippers and Steve Nash looking doubtful to suit up, has this season's first crosstown battle lost some of the juice? Not from where I'm sitting. Regardless of Nash's participation, this is a matchup between two teams with similar postseason aspirations, new faces still seeking their proper fit and a palpable mutual distaste. Those ingredients always carry the potential for compelling basketball. Plus, perhaps a date with their Staples Center roommates can summon a focus and energy necessary for the Lakers to offset their early-season confusion and finally get off the schneid. Or they rack up a third loss in as many tries and hysteria continues.
Either way, I know I'll be watching.
For more perspective on the Clips, I was joined by Kevin Arnovitz and Jordan Heimer, who co-host ESPNLA's Clippers podcast. The show can be heard by clicking on the module and a breakdown of talking points can be found below:
- (2:25): Arnovitz and Heimer share impressions of the Clippers after eight preseason games and Wednesday's regular season victory over the Memphis Grizzlies. (On a side note, those two teams should be required to play each other at least once a week.) In a nutshell, both like how the Clips are developing, and the potential impact of the new faces. The latter factor only reinforces the culture created by "General Manager" Chris Paul.
- (8:15): Former Laker Lamar Odom arrived for his second tour of duty with the Clippers in shape, but unfortunately, the shape would best be described as "round." Considering LO is coming off by far the worst season of his career, the lack of conditioning raised red flags. How has Odom fit in with the second unit?
- (11:10): In addition to LO, the Clippers offseason acquisitions included Jamal Crawford, Matt Barnes, Grant Hill, Ronny Turiaf and Willie Green. How does their second unit stack up against the Lakers' reserves? Who's the better center between Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard to anchor that crew?
- (20:10): Obviously, the biggest issue plaguing the Lakers' during two season opening losses hasn't been the offensive approach, but rather defense and turnovers. By far. However, this goal of meshing Nash's (not to mention Howard's) pick-and-roll skills with the Princeton's motion-based principles is one I find fascinating on a philosophical level. The question to me isn't so much whether or not this plan can work, but rather if it's truly worth a likely 2-3 months spent trying. Arnovitz and Heimer weigh in.
- (31:50): Which are the most intriguing matchups in this game? Arnovitz chooses Blake Griffin (on defense) vs. Gasol (on offense). Heimer is interested in to see how the Laker perimeter players can check their Clipper counterparts. I'm curious to see how much DeAndre Jordan can make Howard work on both ends of the floor.
Also, Arnovitz expresses dismay at the notion of Antawn Jamison playing small forward, considering he can't even guard power forwards. And no matter whether he plays the 3 or 4, dude needs to start shooting more.
- (38:45): Who has better offensive game between Howard vs. Andrew Bynum? Plus, a salute to Drew's Philadelphia hair, which is just fantastic!
- (40:20): Predictions!