It’s been a rough outing for both Los Angeles teams to start the 2021 NBA Playoffs. More so for the Clippers, who after last night’s loss to Dallas are now at a 2-0 deficit in a series that now moves away from the Staples Center. Also, for the Lakers, they took a lot of heat after getting handled pretty easily by the Phoenix Suns in game one, but bounced back in a big way last night with a 109-102 victory in Phoenix, as they now travel home to Los Angeles. Although neither team is leading the series at this point, here’s why both will still manage to meet up in the next round of the Playoffs.
Lakers: Now, to make a case for the Lakers to win a Playoff series that is currently tied isn’t that bold, and I know I’m going to have to be a little more convincing when it comes to the Clippers. However, this series doesn’t favor the Lakers by that much, and the Suns are a pretty darn good team. With a lot of young talent like Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton, Cameron Payne, Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson, and a great veteran point guard who is considered to be one of the greatest point guards ever in Chris Paul, this Phoenix team is not one to be taken lightly. Deandre Ayton has been having his way down low in the first two games averaging 21.5 points and 13 rebounds as people were questioning whether Anthony Davis was going to get ‘bullied’ around all series long by Ayton. In the end, they have a great team who played fantastic during the regular season. They’re good from inside and outside the three-point arc and have guys to go to defensively when stops are needed. However, everybody knows what the Lakers are capable of, even with LeBron having the third-most points on the team. When people questioned whether Davis was going to get pushed around and look as bad as he did in game one all series, he answered scoring 34 points, grabbing 10 rebounds to go along with 7 assists and 3 blocks as well. This is something AD can do on any given night, and I expect him to continue this kind of play going home to LA. James did his job, as he usually does, and everyone knows that if he’s needed to score over 23 points, he can certainly do that. The reason I feel that the Lakers will end up victorious in this series is mainly due to the amount of star power they have. Dennis Schroder flashed his skills last night finishing with 24 points on 50% shooting. Also, Andre Drummond finally showed up as well with 15 points and 12 rebounds. Phoenix doesn’t have anyone as good as LeBron and Davis. Mix in the other talented players on this roster that include Schroder and Drummond, and I believe that the star power of the Lakers will be too much to handle. LeBron and Davis will get theirs every night, but seeing what we saw last night from Schroder, Drummond, and even guys like Gasol and Caruso convince me that LA will simply just be too much for the Suns. Add in the fact that home court advantage is now in the Lakers favor, and the fact that LeBron James has never lost a first round series in the NBA Playoffs in his career with a 14-0 record, and I believe the Lakers will win this series in six.
Clippers: What an awful start to the 2021 NBA Playoffs for the LA Clippers. After two pretty dominant games by the Mavericks, the Clippers now have their work cut out for them as they head to Dallas currently down 2-0. Luka Doncic has been sensational so far scoring 31 in game one and 39 in game two. As has Tim Hardaway Jr. who is averaging 24.5 in the first two games. The reason I think LA can get back into this is because these two players have to regress. Granted Luka Doncic is a phenomenal player, but can he keep this up for 4 games? Looking back to last season’s playoffs series, the Clippers ended up putting the Mavericks away in six games, despite some Doncic magic. Tim Hardaway Jr. averages 16.6 points, so you need to imagine he won’t put up this many points the entire series. Final point on the Mavs: everyone else is playing as good as they possibly can right now. Porzingis, Finney-Smith, Kleber, Brunson and others are playing their best basketball right now, and you need to expect some general regression. Kawhi Leonard has been one of the only bright spots for the Clippers. He scored 26 in game one and 41 in game two to lead his team in scoring both times. Also, Reggie Jackson has been another bright spot contributing in different areas and helping out with the scoring when LAC goes on a couple scoring droughts. It’s the rest of the team that needs to step up, and I believe they will. Paul George has played alright, but he can be better, and everybody else has not been great. I expect Marcus Morris, Patrick Beverley, Nicolas Batum, Serge Ibaka, and others to step up their game as the series heads to Dallas. These guys are all capable of playing better than they are playing right now, and I expect them to improve as the series goes on, help Kawhi out, win the series, and set up a really entertaining semifinal between the LA Lakers and the LA Clippers.