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DODGERS' TIME
EDGE TO CLIPPERS

Don't bet against the Dodgers

Saxon By Mark Saxon
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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Granted, I haven't watched a whole lot of Clippers basketball this season.

But a wise man has suggested a litany of reasons why this exciting, talented, young team may not quite yet be championship material. There are four teams in the NBA that have more experience and, arguably, more talent: the Heat, Pacers, Thunder and Spurs. It's hard to get past that many teams with seasoned players who know how to navigate a treacherous postseason.

The Clippers' road record suggests they could run into trouble when arenas get even louder and more hostile during the postseason. And they will most likely only be able to enjoy a home-court advantage for the first round.

And, until the Clippers prove things have changed, Southern Californians will always expect things, at some point, to go wrong for this franchise. It always seems to. They are, after all, the Clippers.

Not that the Dodgers have exactly been a dazzling show for the past few generations, having won their last World Series 26 years ago. But this is clearly an organization bent on a hostile takeover of Major League Baseball. They've spent somewhere in the neighborhood of $1 billion -- that's billion, with a b -- remaking the roster and fixing up Dodger Stadium.

Money doesn't translate directly into wins, of course, and for a while it looked as though the plan would lead to an expensive mess. Then the pitching of Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, and the hitting of Hanley Ramirez and Yasiel Puig proved too much for the National League to hold off any longer.

Here's why the Dodgers will be practically unstoppable: Things don't have to go right for them to win. No other team in baseball can say that. They advanced to within two games of the World Series last October even though they were besieged by injuries. Josh Beckett and Matt Kemp were out by that point, Ramirez and Andre Ethier hobbled. The Dodgers won two games against the Arizona Diamondbacks in Australia while playing at about 60 percent of their potential.

The Dodgers are better in 2014 than they were in 2013. They have better reserves in the minor leagues, a deep bullpen and the belief that they are the best team in the league. You could feel it in spring training. This team has a singular goal: a ring. I wouldn't bet against them.

L.A.'s best shot may be Clippers

Markazi By Arash Markazi
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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With the Lakers in the basement, UCLA basketball out of the tournament and USC football rebuilding, Los Angeles wants a winner -- and it wants one now. It's totally understandable. Its best two options right now are the Dodgers and the Clippers.

While the Dodgers have the richest payroll in the major leagues and are favored to win the World Series, the truth is Los Angeles' best shot at a championship in 2014 may be with the Clippers.

They finally have a championship coach in Doc Rivers to lead a talented squad with two of the top five players in the league in Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. They have been one of the top five teams in the league this season and have the best home record in the West. Sure, they don't have much of a championship pedigree, but pedigree doesn't mean much when talking about the here and now. And let's be honest, the Dodgers haven't won a World Series since 1988.

When the postseason begins, the role of the coach and manager gets magnified. And when it comes to that department, the Clippers have the edge with Rivers, who has won a title and was within one win of winning a second. As good as Don Mattingly is, he has yet to prove that he can lead the talented Dodgers over the hump when the playoffs roll around.

He first has to get Yasiel Puig to buy into the team concept, figure out what they're going to do at second base and hope the injury bug eludes them, which hasn't always been the case.

The Clippers and Dodgers have both established solid foundations for contending teams this year and for the foreseeable future, but if only one team can finish 2014 with a championship, the Clippers might have the slight edge.

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