The Los Angeles Lakers play their first meaningful game since March 10 on Thursday, taking on the rival L.A. Clippers in the first of eight seeding games to come inside the Walt Disney World bubble.
With three scrimmages under their belt, the Lakers shift their attention to clinching the Western Conference’s top seed. They currently lead the Clippers by 5.5 games but trail the Milwaukee Bucks for the NBA’s best record by five games.
When the Lakers inevitably secure the West’s top spot, attention will shift to the bottom of the conference where the Memphis Grizzlies, Portland Trail Blazers, New Orleans Pelicans, Sacramento Kings and San Antonio Spurs vie for the eighth and final postseason berth.
Thursday’s game signifies the fourth meeting between the L.A. teams. The Clippers defeated the Lakers in the season opener and again on Christmas Day to take a two-game series lead. The purple and gold exacted a measure of revenge a few days prior to the NBA shutdown and will now try to even up the series before a potential playoff clash.
The Lakers will be without a couple of key contributors. Avery Bradley opted out of the NBA restart to remain with his family and will not participate in games for the remainder of the season. Rajon Rondo fractured his thumb in practice a couple of weeks ago and is unlikely to return until sometime in the playoffs.
The Clippers are without Lou Williams as he is currently serving a 10-day quarantine after being photographed in an Atlanta strip club during his excused absence. Backup center Montrezl Harrell has yet to return to the bubble after leaving for a personal matter.
Clippers starting point guard Patrick Beverley is playing but may be on a minutes restriction.
The Lakers will debut Dion Waiters and JR Smith, who will likely battle to earn playing time when the rotation shrinks for the playoffs. Both performed admirably in the scrimmages, with Smith, in particular, showcasing his shooting ability. If Smith can continue his hot shooting, he could play behind Danny Green in a catch-and-shoot role with the second unit.
Caldwell-Pope will attempt to cement his spot in the starting lineup. He has been an integral part of the roster after a shaky start to the year and is expected to defend opposing teams’ best perimeter player as Bradley did for much of the season.
Lakers Betting Odds
Dave Mason of BetOnline Sports is reporting tonight’s late game between the Lakers and Clippers will be the most wagered on of the NBA season so far. Action is 4x that of the early game between Utah and New Orleans. CoinRoyale Sportsbook has the Lakers a 4 point favorite (-110) and -185 on the moneyline.
Lakers (49-14) vs. Clippers (44-20)
6:00 p.m. PT, July 30, 2020
The Arena, Orlando, Florida
TV: TNT, Spectrum SportsNet, Fox Sports Prime Ticket
Radio: AM 570 LA Sports
Projected Lakers starting lineup:
PG: Lebron James
SG: Danny Green
SF: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
PF: Anthony Davis
C: JaVale McGee
Key Reserves: Dwight Howard, Alex Caruso, Kyle Kuzma
Projected Clippers starting lineup:
PG: Patrick Beverley
SG: Paul George
SF: Kawhi Leonard
PF: Maurice Harkless
C: Ivica Zubac
Key Reserves: Landry Shamet, JaMychal Green, Patrick Patterson
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