The Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers have met under the bright lights of Christmas Day and Opening Night, but Wednesday’s matchup between the two corridor foes will have postseason implications.
The Clippers and Lakers will meet in what will be the largest game of the season and probably the most “meaningful” game for them as they both urgently try to avoid next week’s play-in competition.
After all the hoopla over the last few seasons about the two teams competing for a championship and potentially squaring off in a postseason series, this will be a contest that feels like a playoff fight between the teams who share the same corridor for their dressing areas at Crypto.com Arena.
“We never got to play them in a [playoff] series that the fans and everyone expected us to,” Clippers centre Ivica Zubac said before practise. “However, this is as close as it gets.”This is probably the most significant contest I’ve ever played in with the Lakers [and] Clippers. You can already sense it. It’ll be the most important contest of the season for both sides. I can hardly wait.”
The reality that this is Russell Westbrook’s first game against his old Lakers team since being moved to Utah and then buying out his contract, enabling him to join with the Clippers, adds to the excitement and drama.
Westbrook’s new Clippers colleagues understand how important this game is to the former MVP point guard, who has adapted well to his new surroundings.
“We know what’s been said [in] the media about him and his time there,” said defender Norman Powell. “We’ve always shown our support since the day he arrived, bringing him into the fold, bringing him into the family.”When you compete against a previous company, you want to give it to them. So I believe it is a crucial contest for both him and us.”
The Clippers (41-38) began Tuesday’s contests in fifth place in the Western Conference, despite losses by the Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Lakers, and New Orleans Pelicans.
They will be missing All-Star Paul George against the Lakers. (sprained knee). Clippers coach Tyronn Lue did say that player Eric Gordon will see how his hurt hip feels in practise on Tuesday and that Marcus Morris Sr. is not subject to health and safety procedures.
While the Clippers have won 10 consecutive against the Lakers, they believe this encounter, which will be a Clippers home game, will be different.
When questioned why the Clippers have had such recent success against the Lakers, Lue said, “It’s different now.” “There’s a lot at risk right now. They’re performing at a top level, and this is our first important contest.”I’m really looking forward to it. Let’s wait and see what transpires. I’m not sure why we’ve been so successful [against the Lakers], but things will be different tomorrow.”