The Clippers and Lakers regular seasons are about to come to an end and the teams are headed in opposite directions. After the Clippers 140-115 win over the Boston Celtics last Monday night at the Staples Center the Clippers moved into sixth place in the Western Conference standings with a record of 39-29. The Lakers are in 11th place in the standings with a record of 30-36. Eight teams make the playoffs in the conference.
The Lakers’ situation will get a lot worse during the next week because they started a five game road trip last Tuesday against Chicago. On Thursday, March 14, they face a very good Toronto team at 5 p.m., on Friday they play Detroit at 4 p.m., Sunday they face New York and Tuesday they play Milwaukee, one of the best teams in the NBA at 5 p.m. and that’s just for one week.
After that their remaining schedule of 11 games consists of seven playoff teams. Not only is the schedule not in the Lakers favor for the next month they will be playing without two starters, Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball, both out with season ending injuries. Injuries have also put another starter, Kyle Kuzma and reserve Lance Stephenson on the bench.
The injury to Ingram is serious. He has a blood clot in his arm and that condition could be life threatening. On January 19, Ball suffered a Grade 3 left ankle sprain, which included a torn ligament and a bone bruise. Kuzma also sprained his ankle and Stephenson has a sprained left toe.
Things started going downhill for the Lakers when LeBron James injured his groin on Christmas day against the Warriors and the Lakers have never been the same. At that time they were in fourth place in the Western conference and looking like a playoff team. Now, even with James playing at a top level again, the team is on the outside looking into the playoffs.
The Clippers are one of the surprise teams in the NBA. At the beginning of the season they had nine new players on their roster. A month ago they traded their best player, Tobias Harris and in return they received several more new players. Despite all of the changes the Clippers continue to stay in the playoff hunt.
Who is behind the success for the 2018-2019 season so far? Right now you can break the answer to that question down into four part parts. Number one is the players. They keep proving everyone wrong by playing team basketball. Number two is the coach, Doc Rivers, who is providing leadership. Number three is the front office of Lawrence Franks and Jerry West who are bringing in the right players and number four and probably the most important is the owner, Steve Blamer, who is providing the resources to make all of this happen. He is a billion dollar owner who supports his team with passion but appears to stay out of the way when it comes to basketball decisions.
With 13 games to go in the regular season theClippers play most of those games at home. On Friday they play Chicago at 7:30 p.m. On Sunday the face the Nets at 6 p.m. and on Tuesday, March 19, they battle the Indiana Pacers at 7:30 p.m. All three games will be played at the Staples Center.