ORLANDO, Fla. – The road to the championship begins in Orlando and ends in Orlando and would make sense geographically if it led through Los Angeles in between.
This is what the basketball GPS says as the playoffs approach the second round after a two-day delay due to threats of disrupting an expected showdown between Lakers and Clippers in the Western Conference final, similar to the coronavirus testing here at Disney. are negative so far.
Not only is this great news for LA, it’s beyond the 213 area code. A basketball universe and television audience crave a La La series that would drown out everyone else, maybe even the subsequent NBA final.
Obviously, not everyone is excited about Portland and Dallas, where the Blazers and Mavericks fight the good fight. And what’s cruel is that when all is said and done, these two persistent teams could be the toughest tests the Clippers and Lakers will see in the conference playoffs, except for each other.
Wasn’t it just last week when the first round started shaking for both LA teams? Damian Lillard delivered the greatest August in NBA history and Luka Doncic took the elevator up in his next evolution to superstar. The healthy blazers weren’t your ordinary # 8 seed, and the Mavericks had two stars that matched the Clippers, and suddenly the slim chance for high drama had crept through security and infiltrated the NBA campus.
But the Clippers have recalibrated themselves and are 3-2 against the limping Mavericks to deliver the KO on Sunday. And the Lakers are beasts again, taking advantage of Lillard being crippled with a sprained knee to bring the blazers back to Portland. LeBron James and Anthony Davis together scored 79 points in the series win on Saturday. Provided there aren’t any serious setbacks with the Clippers during their attempt to shut out Luka and the Mavs, the whole of LA can collectively exhale.
“Look, we just have to come out and play well. If you add that to the execution and the schedule and follow the schedule and the effort, you have a better chance,” said Clippers coach Doc Rivers.
With all of the NBA playoff teams readjusting after what Rivers referred to as a “break” due to the players’ desire to double the message of social justice, the Clippers reject any idea that they put focus during this process to lose.
“We have a championship attitude here,” said security guard Pat Beverley.
At the moment they are in stark contrast to Dallas. The Mavericks reach for body parts and reach for hope. Kristaps Porzingis is scratched from a lateral meniscus tear in his right knee. Doncic valiantly saved Dallas for an epic game without Porzingis, then he and the Mavs floated back to earth after dropping 153 points in Game 5, and now Doncic lacks a strong co-star to bring him into battle.
The Mavs play against a strong team of Clippers who could afford the disappearance of a player or two and are given no breaks on that front. This is where the endurance tests become a factor. The teams can’t afford injuries, not even the improvements. You just don’t have enough time to heal.
Meanwhile, Kawhi Leonard is in playoff form, showing plenty of rebound from dribbling, especially when coming back on track after falling midfielders who are money. So far, he’s everything the Clippers imagined when they signed him last summer. Kawhi averages 32.8 points at 52% shooting with 9.4 rebounds. He did everything well except consistently hitting 3-pointers.
Better news for the Clippers: Paul George got rid of the radio.
He made a distance of only 10 shots out of 47, evaporated at key moments, missed the shots after a series of mistakes, and had little overall impact on the ground against Dallas.
George rallied with a 35-pointer to include the Clippers on the series and later stated that he wasn’t in the best of spirits, partly due to the narrowness of the NBA campus combined with his shooting problems. He said he’d spoken to the team’s sports psychologists for the past few days. However, he added that there was no thought of leaving campus and with family members on hand and eager to reunite with the players, George will be given a support system.
“Well, I didn’t mean to give in right away,” said George. “If things had gotten serious, my team would have understood if I had to walk away from it. But all I needed was that I sought help and advice, and from there it helped. It took me to another place. It was there that the decision was made that I could move on with the help I received. That’s where it started. It was just great advice, everyone told me that they think the same way, just keep being me, playing my game. All of that helped, just their views and perspectives and the way they see me. It changed my whole mind. “
And here’s the best news for the Clippers: We still haven’t seen them in their best and full strength. Beverley is still dealing with a quad load and has no schedule for his return. and Montrezl Harrell remains rusty after missing the last two weeks for his grandmother’s death and funeral.
“There’s no question about whether we want to win a championship because we do,” said security guard Landry Shamet. “That’s all we think about. We’re locked up again. “
The Lakers prevailed for the fourth straight playoff game on Saturday by eliminating the Blazers and showing that most of their vital signs are positive. Coach Frank Vogel said the team had “re-centered and realigned” not only because of the events of the past few days but also for most of the season, including the death of Kobe Bryant.
“We have a doctorate in dealing with adversity,” said Vogel. “We’ve been through so much as a group this year. We were able to rely on these experiences as a group throughout the year. This is just the next part in a long list of things that happened to our group. I am therefore confident that we can go back to where we were. “
LeBron scores a triple-double on average in the playoffs to start his quest for the # 4 title, and the only picky signals from Davis are a couple of periods of disappearing every now and then. Otherwise, 31 points and 11 rebounds and two blocks per game aren’t shabby.
The 3-point shooting has stabilized for the Lakers after their collective 5v32 nightmare to open the playoffs. Here, too, LeBron and Davis can relieve a lot of pain regardless of how much base production the Lakers get from supporting cast, and regardless of whether their distance shots are blotchy.
Next up for the LA teams are the survivors of the grudge games Rockets-Thunder and Jazz-Nuggets. Even then, LA basketball gets a little break. The Rockets, who had just received Russell Westbrook’s return, would be severely disadvantaged over the Lakers. Oklahoma City, on the other hand, would leave the Lakers in the superstar matchup with 0: 2 badly behind (no disrespect for Chris Paul).
Donovan Mitchell carries the jazz bravely, although the Clippers tend to silence most scorers by throwing a trio of defenders (Kawhi, PG, Beverley) in that direction. Remember, Bojan Bogdanovic is in the playoffs, robbing jazz of its second best option. Meanwhile, the Nuggets are again underperforming in the playoffs – their coach Mike Malone said his team had to be “mentally tougher” – and with Utah now 3-2 behind, a rally to win this series would be a drag on them before they hit the clippers.
Make no mistake, this is the most unique playoff season and setting in NBA history. Although there haven’t been any big surprises in the first round so far, anything is possible in the second round, especially because there is no home advantage. Also, never miss the chance of injuries that have already disrupted teams to spoil dreams.
LA vs. However, LA is under development. The visibility of such a conference finals would improve the platform for social justice and undermine basketball ratings. LeBron, Kawhi, PG and AD on the same floor? The anticipation for this series would not be limited to Los Angeles.
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Shaun Powell has been in the NBA for more than 25 years. You can send him an email You can find his archive here and follow him on Twitter .
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