The Lakers are currently riding the wave of momentum and plan to ride that wave straight into the playoffs and eventually into the Finals. The Lakers go into Friday night’s game against the Clippers looking to extend their 13-1 winning streak since the All-Star break. However, wins against the Clippers aren’t as easy as they used to be. Why? Two words: Blake Griffin. Griffin’s athleticism, performance, and media infatuation has been the best thing to happen to the Clippers since… maybe forever.
The Lakers have the upper hand in the regular season series with the Clippers at 2-1, but Griffin is single handily playing to do more than just trying to beat the Lakers. He is not only proving himself to be a potential superstar, but he is responsible for the Clippers to emerge as a team that should no longer be the laughing stock of the NBA. With that said, it is safe to say that Griffin and the Clippers are approaching tonight’s game with playoff mentality.
The battle for Los Angeles comes out tonight for Griffin. He will be matched up with Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom. By the way, a fresh and on-fire Andrew Bynum will be clogging up the lane, waiting to swat away Griffin’s attempts. Pau is having yet another solid season, averaging 18.8 points per game and 10.2 rebounds per game*. Lamar is having his best season yet, in my opinion, averaging 14.5 points per game and 8.8 rebounds per game*. In fact, Kobe Bryant has recently endorsed Lamar for sixth man of the year. Bynum’s post All-Star performance has rejuvenated the team, especially on the defensive end. Coming off his two-game suspension, which translates to a full week off, Bynum will have the fresh legs to be the latter in the one-two punch against Griffin.
Griffin’s assignment tonight is certainly a tough one. To put it in perspective, I haven’t even mentioned Kobe’s performance and passion that he consistently brings to the court, or the increased offensive and defensive production by Ron Artest and Matt Barnes. Tonight, the Lakers are fighting for the all-important playoff position while Griffin and the Clippers are fighting for bragging rights in LA.
*Statistics provided by NBA.com