The scrimmages are finished and the seeding games are finally set to begin. For the Los Angeles Lakers this means a matchup with the other Western Conference favorite and their biggest rival, the L.A. Clippers.
The Clippers won the first two head-to-head games, but Frank Vogel’s team turned it around in the last matchup, and all eyes will be on this contest. The Clippers are one of the few teams with a duo comparable to the Lakers’ All-Stars of LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
Kawhi Leonard is the reigning NBA Finals MVP, while Paul George is one of the league’s best two-way players and has plenty of playoff experience. With it being the first night of games that count, intensity will pick up greatly.
“It’s the first of the seeding games, and our mission with these eight games is to get ready for the playoffs and be as healthy as possible,” Vogel said. “We do have great respect for their organization and the team they put together. They’re one of the best teams in the league. More than anything, I think it’s going to be a great measuring stick for where we’re at.
“Obviously we still have a long way to go until we’re playoff ready. You don’t sharpen yourselves as well against teams of lessor opponent than you would against a great team. It’s definitely going to be a good test for us.”
The Lakers will definitely have a bit of an edge on paper as the Clippers will be down their two outstanding reserves with both Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell out for the contest. But even without them, Vogel understands that this game will show exactly where the Lakers stand.
Vogel still has things to work out especially in regards to his rotation and figuring out the best lineups that work together. Obviously the most important thing for the Lakers is being healthy when the playoffs start, but there is no doubt that Frank Vogel and the rest of the team wants to send a message in this first game.
McGee believes Lakers are at 80%
The meeting between the Lakers and Clippers will be the marquee matchup on the first night of the seeding games. Every time these teams have met this season it has had the intensity of a playoff matchup, and Thursday doesn’t figure to be any different.
While these seeding games matter, the Lakers will also be using these games to round themselves back into form before the playoffs begin. JaVale McGee believes they are close, but not at 100% just yet.
“I feel we’re at 80%. We still have to play real games with real lineups and everybody playing real minutes,” McGee said.
“I feel like that’s what these eight games are for, to get us prepared for a strong playoff push. I’m really excited about that. Everybody is excited, everybody is motivated, everybody is in the gym for two-a-days and taking care of their bodies. Everybody is just really focused.”
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