With some of the biggest offseason moves in the NBA, bettors and fans alike think we’ll see the Clippers and Lakers face off in a Western Conference Finals showdown. Should we count on it?
The NBA offseason is a season unto itself. In some ways, many people say that no sport comes close to the drama you can expect to see when the season ends. And for the Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers, this past offseason certainly didn’t disappoint.
With the addition of Anthony Davis to the Lakers and a powerful combo of Paul George and Kawhi Leonard on the Clippers, this may be the first time in NBA history we could legitimately say that Los Angeles has two teams favored to make the Western Conference finals. Everyone (other than sportsbooks) would love for that result to come true, but is it something we can realistically expect to see?
Normally, I would take more of a contrarian approach to this answer, but frankly, as “square” as it may sound, this may be the first time that it really is that simple: The conference’s two best teams, on paper at least, will be facing off sometime next May. Here’s why.
A Players’ League
In the NBA, more than any other league, individual players dominate the action. A single player can single-handedly take over the game in a way that no other sport allows, though soccer certainly comes close.
LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard are two-way players that can be forces on both ends of the court. Leonard showed in the Eastern Conference finals that he was a force that absolutely “broke” any chance of the Bucks being able to close out Game 6. James, while watching the past season’s playoffs from his couch, has shown in the past that when he’s on, he’s on.
While it remains to be seen if his health (and motivation) are where they have traditionally been in his earlier stints in his career, LeBron, when he wants to, is very much the unstoppable force to Kawhi’s immovable object.
Leonard has shown in the past that he’s frustrated James, even so much as getting James to elicit a profane remark on-camera upon checking into an NBA Finals game years back, so it would be exciting to see a rematch of the two on the game’s second-biggest stage, at least for the Western Conference.
Matchups and history aside, these two are both players 1A and 1B in the Western Conference. If both remain healthy, there’s no doubt they have the best shot to will their teams to the conference finals.
The Western Conference Arms Race
The 2019-20 NBA season is exciting as a whole because it’s the first time in many seasons that a ton of parity exists, especially in the West. Between the Rockets, Clippers, and Lakers, those three teams could easily make a go of it.
While some may be completely ignoring the Warriors, Jazz, Nuggets, and Blazers, they too could make a go of it, but ultimately, they do not have the championship mettle of LeBron and Kawhi.
In the world of betting, as well as in the world of picking winners, you have to go with those with proven pedigrees. The Clippers took the former world champs to six games last season as the eighth seed; with Kawhi at the helm, there’s no doubt they have a very good opportunity to make history and earn their first NBA Finals berth.
With the Lakers, in adding Davis, the Lakers have an impressive starting core, but do they have the depth to survive the gauntlet of the NBA season deep into the postseason?
The oddsmakers like both to go far, and without a doubt, put a ticket on both teams punching their ticket to go toe-to-toe with each other at the end of the season.