The Battle of LA is one of the most exciting matchups in the NBA. The crosstown rivalry dates back to 1984, when the Clippers franchise moved to the city of Los Angeles. LA Clippers vs LA Lakers was chosen to be last season's opening matchup as well, and the two star-studded teams will face each other on December 22nd to kick off the 2020-21 NBA season.
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This opening-night game will feature many superstars, and of course, the reigning champions LA Lakers. Both the teams are considered title contenders, and have bolstered their rosters.
One of the highlights of the offseason was Montrezl Harrell switching teams in the same arena. The famous matchup of LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard will headline the game, while All-Stars like Paul George and Anthony Davis will be crucial to their respective teams.
LA Clippers vs LA Lakers Match Predictions: 3 key matchups to look out for
Every game is decided due to matchups between certain stars. The defensive prowess of certain players is often a deciding factor in games, and everyone likes to see superstars go head-to-head.
In this article, we'll look at 3 key matchups that might decide the fate of the LA Clippers vs LA Lakers game.
#3 Marc Gasol vs Serge Ibaka
Both the Toronto Raptors' big men from last season, Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol, decided to take their talents to Los Angeles. Ibaka signed with the LA Clippers, whereas Gasol chose the LA Lakers in NBA free agency.
Gasol and Ibaka are their respective teams' starting centers and will be facing each other on opening night. Both players know each other's game well as they won a championship together in 2019, and exploiting the other's weaknesses will be important for them in this LA Clippers vs LA Lakers game.
Both big men can stretch the floor and are equally skilled at rebounding. Ibaka is better at blocking, to a point where his nickname is "I-block-a".
The LA Lakers won't rely just on Gasol for rebounds and blocks. Anthony Davis, LeBron James, and Montrezl Harell will contribute their fair share of rebounds and blocks.
The Gasol-Ibaka match-up in the post will have a major impact on the outcome of the LA Lakers vs LA Clippers game.
#2 Anthony Davis vs Serge Ibaka and Ivica Zubac
Unlike most teams, the rosters of the LA Lakers and the LA Clippers feature more star forwards than guards. The matchup between Anthony Davis and the LA Clippers' big men will one of the game-deciding contests.
Anthony Davis is the LA Lakers' star forward, and leads the team in scoring. He is also the team's main defensive player, and his contributions to the team's victory are invaluable.
The LA Clippers don't have many big men other than Ibaka and Ivica Zubac off the bench. Both the players will be focused on stopping Anthony Davis, while their scoring capabilities will take a hit with Davis guarding them at the other end of the floor.
#1 LeBron James vs Kawhi Leonard
The competition between these two superstars dates back to the 2013 NBA Finals.
Kawhi Leonard was a young player showing signs of All-Star caliber with the San Antonio Spurs, while the Miami Heat's LeBron James was arguably the best player in the league and a defending champion.
The duo met again in the 2014 NBA Finals, and the defensive efforts of a then 22-year-old Kawhi Leonard against LeBron James earned the former the Finals MVP.
Kawhi Leonard and LeBron James are two of the best two-way players in the league, and have been compared several times. The fact that they play in the same city as rivals makes this matchup even more exciting.
Both these players will be guarding each other for the majority of the game, and their head-to-head matchup is the key to this contest's outcome.
Published 19 Dec 2020, 21:35 IST