It was an advantage before the year began and it is an advantage now. While the Los Angeles Lakers are also a great defensive team and are a lot of better than most people expected them to be, they are not on the same defensive level as the Los Angeles Clippers.
The problem with the Clippers for the Lakers is how many defenders the Clippers have and their ability to limit the Lakers’ offense. The team has Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and even Patrick Beverley that can defend LeBron, allowing the Clippers to send various different looks at him as he tries to run the Lakers’ offense, which will help a lot in a seven-game series.
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Even Morris, who the team traded for, has had success in defending LeBron before. Then, when LeBron dishes it out to the perimeter, the Clippers will inherently have at least two elite closeout defenders available to disrupt shots.
The one area that the Lakers can attack is with Anthony Davis because they have the size advantage. The Clippers have Montrezl Harrell to line up against Davis, which is not going to be enough to stop Davis in a series, but can limit him some.
The Clippers know that Davis might be a problem and will be fine losing some of those battles, it is the defense on LeBron, their ability to be flexible defensively and the closing out on shooters that is going to be a problem for the Lakers.
As for the Lakers’ defense, while they have some great defenders, you have to ask the question of who is going to guard both Kawhi and Paul George? The easy answer might be LeBron and Danny Green but whoever LeBron is guarding is going to have success and the Lakers cannot get too small and throw Avery Bradley on Paul George for 25 minutes.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will definitely help, but again, he would be defending either a top-three player in the league or a top-10 player in the league, that is not sustainable over a seven-game series.
Anthony Davis is an option but the Clippers could simply draw him out to the perimeter, which will either free up the lane near the basket or create a mismatch for Marcus Morris. The Lakers seem to be that one great wing defender away from being able to guard the Clippers to the best of their ability.
Either way, a potential series between the Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers would be phenomenal to watch and really would be a game of 4D chess between two basketball juggernauts.