While from the players perspective, the rivalry between the Los Angeles Lakers and L.A. Clippers is overblown, fans are excited for a potential matchup in the Western Conference Finals.
Both teams would need to get past two Western Conference opponents each to make it happen, but even Hall of Famers Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley believe it’s an inevitability. There has not been a more tightly contested matchup between two teams this season, as the Lakers and Clippers split their four-game series.
Not only that, the total points scored from those meetings has the Clippers with a narrow 427-423 advantage. That has further fueled discussions over the potential matchup with a right to reach the NBA Finals on the line.
If it happened, O’Neal believes his former team would take it in seven games, via “Inside The NBA”:
“If you’ve got the Clippers’ focus and the Lakers’ focus with LeBron, it’s going to go to seven, and I’m going with the Lakers over seven. I’m telling you what the Lakers are doing right now: they’ve got the first spot clinched, they’re relaxing. They’re just going to relax. Then two days before the playoffs start, you start to wind it up. And then after Game 1, which is always the feel out game, then it’s turned back on. Then you know what you’ve got to do.”
Barkley — on the other hand — is riding with the Clippers due to what he sees as a talent discrepancy:
“If they play, I love the Clippers for a couple reasons. No. 1, they’ve got two guys that can guard LeBron, and he’s to guard them on the other end. He’s going to have his hands full every night with Kawhi or Paul George. At 35 years of age, I think that’s a lot to ask. I still think it’s going to come down to Anthony Davis. I don’t know if he’s got that dog in him. Shaq knows this and Kenny knows this. You need to have a guy who says, ‘I’m just going to kill y’all. Ain’t nothing y’all can do about it. If ya’ll don’t double me, I’m going to go crazy. If y’all double me, we’re going to get wide-open threes.’
“Anthony Davis hasn’t proven to me that he can be that guy. And they’ve got no bench. When LeBron goes out the game, they’ve got one of the most stagnant offenses in the NBA. Clippers are always going to have Kawhi, Paul George, Lou Williams. They’ve got three guys that can go off and win them four game. The Lakers don’t have but two guys.”
Both opinions are fair perspectives that have been shared by many in the ongoing debate. However, as Kenny Smith shared on the broadcast, there’s no use in discussing a matchup that may not even happen.
The Lakers and Clippers have both looked poor at times within the Walt Disney World bubble, and will have to face very good teams in order to even get to the WCF. The Lakers will have to face one of four potential No. 8 seeds, followed by the winner of a series between two of the Houston Rockets, Utah Jazz, or Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Clippers will take on the Dallas Mavericks in the first round, home to one of the most prolific offenses in NBA history, and then will have to face either the Denver Nuggets or one of the previously mentioned teams.
Kevin Durant picks Clippers over Lakers
Even other players have participated in what could be a useless debate, as Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant threw his hat in the ring to discuss the potential seven game matchup between the two L.A. teams.
In fact, Durant picked the Clippers to not only win the West, but win the championship as well, in his mind it’s over the Milwaukee Bucks.
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