The Lakers had lost the first two meetings, leading to the narrative they weren’t real championship contenders despite having the Western Conference’s best record.
The wins against the Clippers and the Milwaukee Bucks in the same weekend helped prove they were for real. Even in a game where Leonard basically got most of whatever he wanted on the court, the Lakers still managed to get the win.
Prior to the NBA hiatus, Green spoke about what defending Leonard is like given his years of experience playing with him, according to ‘Take It There’ with Taylor Rooks:
“As with all great players, there is no real stopping them. It’s trying to contain them. I think the best thing with any superstar is try to limit his touches, try not to let him catch the ball where he wants it, try to deny him some, double team him some, throw different looks at him. He’s a tough player. I know what he’s going to do and I still can’t stop it. That’s what makes him great.”
When asked if there’s any secrets when it comes to containing Leonard, Green immediately rejected the question:
“No, not really. And if I did, I really wouldn’t put it out there.”
The 2019-20 NBA season is the first of both Leonard and Green’s career where they aren’t teammates. With the exception of Green’s rookie season with the Cleveland Cavaliers, both played for the San Antonio Spurs from 2011-18 before being traded to the Toronto Raptors together.
If anyone would know a way to contain Leonard, it’s Green. Luckily, some excellent defensive efforts from LeBron James as well as the rest of the Lakers team did just enough to beat the Clippers.
Sadly, there’s a chance it may not matter as the season remains under hiatus and will continue to do so for a while until this coronavirus pandemic can be figured out. If the season can resume at some point, the Lakers will have a blueprint of some kind to fall back on.