The Clippers have clearly been the better team in this young NBA season, and the Lakers are clearly the better franchise. The Clippers 17 game win streak while challenging Lakers LA supremacy is nothing short of a small miracle. But both teams have the same number of wins in 2013 headed into Fridays showdown of STAPLES Center tenants—Zero.
One area where the Clippers have a decided advantage, is in the frontcourt.
Tuesday Lakers fans were reminded of a frontcourt past, and proved they remembered it when a former Laker entered the game for the Sixers. And for a split second after the game, Lakers fans dared to think what’s the difference between their current front court, and former Laker Kwame Brown.
On Tuesday, officially the difference between the former overall number 1 picks was 24 minutes, 7 points, and 8 rebounds. That comparison is harsh if it isn’t inaccurate as well, but its tempting. The Lakers have no chance against the Clippers if Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol shoot a combined 16% (3-19) from the field, as they did against the 76ers. Kwame Brown isn’t the more affordable, ineffective solution, but its tempting to draw the comparison.
DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin have been quick and explosive on both ends of the court, in transition, and well above the rim. The Clippers 17 game win streak is evidence of it. This gives them a decided edge over the maligned Gasol and Howard. The Clippers high effort is a simple recipe which takes advantage of the Lakers current deficiencies.
Wednesday Griffin had his own problems from the field going 2-11, but the lack of mobility and effort generally displayed by Gasol and Howard are sure to be a cure to this former overall number 1 pick’s recent slide. It will be interesting to see how much D’Antoni adjusts and gives Metta World Peace more time at the 4 spot matched up against one of the NBA’s best Power Forwards. Peace’s hustle could slow down Griffin, who would be one of the few who could actually out-muscle Metta.
But 2 former Lakers should also have a big say in the eventual outcome of the game. Matt Barnes has shot the 3 exceptionally well all season, much better than last year with the Lakers, and his movement creates matchup problems on both ends. And Lamar Odom fitness and form have returned. Both are sure to be highly motivated against their former teams.
The best chance the Lakers frontcourt has against the Clippers is to get to the line and actually make their free throws. If Pau can knock down a few jumpers, and he and Howard actually finish around the rim that would help too. But slowing down the game, and getting Griffin and Jordan in foul trouble will be necessary components of a victory for the frontcourt of the Lakers.
The Clippers streak inevitably came to an end. But after 2 losses they will refocus and be highly motivated on Friday to prove on the court they are the best team in LA.