The Los Angeles Lakers are looking to build off a big win despite a severely shorthanded backcourt at the moment. However, a hallway matchup versus the L.A. Clippers at Staples Center certainly presents a daunting task.
Like the Lakers, the Clippers are coming off a much-needed win over the Toronto Raptors that snapped a three-game losing streak. Securing the regular-season sweep over their “crosstown” rivals would undoubtedly help get them back on track.
Meanwhile, the Purple and Gold find themselves in a must-win situation with just a .5-game lead over the Portland Trail Blazers for the sixth seed in the Western Conference. Not only must they find their rhythm with the postseason around the corner, but the prospect of taking part in a play-in tournament also is already not sitting well with LeBron James.
Unfortunately, it seems James will not be able to do much about it right now as he continues to recover from his ankle injury. With Dennis Schroder ruled out due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols and Talen Horton-Tucker listed as questionable with a calf strain, the Lakers will have a serious shortage of playmakers at their disposal for the time being.
Head coach Frank Vogel has indicated that Alex Caruso will be taking on an increased role as the primary ball-handler on offense down the stretch. Although he is still making the necessary adjustments, Caruso showed plenty of promise with 11 points, five rebounds and three assists in the 93-89 win over the Nuggets.
Andre Drummond credited Caruso with stepping up into such a key role amid the current shortage of playmakers in L.A. Of course, the onus will also fall on the frontcourt tandem of Drummond and Davis to do some heavy lifting.
Davis continues to lead the way with averages of 21.4 points, eight rebounds and 1.8 blocks on the season. Meanwhile, Drummond is averaging 12.5 points, 8.7 rebounds and shooting 50.4% from the field over the last 10 games for the Lakers.
The Clippers are sporting a much cleaner bill of health with Serge Ibaka as their only key player missing. He has missed the last seven weeks with lower back tightness and there is still no timetable on his return.
Paul George is averaging 23.6 points while shooting a red-hit 41.8% from 3-point land this season. Marcus Morris Sr. led the team with 22 points during their 104-86 win in April and has posted 13.6 points while shooting 39.0% over the last 10 games.
Their recent skid allowed Denver to slide ahead of them for the third seed in the Western Conference. A win tonight will keep them in striking distance of moving up with the hand full of remaining games left.
Meanwhile, the Lakers must find a way to get it done if they hope to avoid a high-stakes showdown on the second night of a back-to-back. A loss would allow the Blazers to potentially secure a tiebreaker for the season, which would give them an edge when it comes down to the play-in spot.
Lakers (37-28) vs. Clippers (44-22)
7:00 p.m. PT, May 6, 2021
Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
TV: TNT, Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM ESPN LA
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: Alex Caruso
SG: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
SF: Kyle Kuzma
PF: Anthony Davis
C: Andre Drummond
Key Reserves: Montrezl Harrell, Markieff Morris, Wesley Matthews, Ben McLemore, Marc Gasol
Projected Clippers Starting Lineup:
PG: Reggie Jackson
SG: Paul George
SF: Kawhi Leonard
PF: Marcus Morris Sr.
C: Ivica Zubac
Key Reserves: Nicolas Batum, Rajon Rondo, Patrick Beverley, DeMarcus Cousins
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!