The NBA announced on Tuesday that the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers will make the battle for the city championship the marquee event of its opening night slate of games when they square off at Staples Center on October 29.
In addition to star power featuring the likes of Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Steve Nash, Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, the evening will serve as a litmus test as to where both teams are after eventful offseasons for both.
Dwightmare leaves town
No Dwight Howard means less drama — at least that’s what the Lakers hope in 2013-14. Without Howard to draw so much attention for all the wrong reasons, winning will be all that matters. The Lakers’ veterans want to desperately prove that they don’t need the mercurial big man to be competitive, and that he made a mistake in choosing the Houston Rockets. The Clippers will prove to be an early test to each of those factors.
Lob City or Win City?
Chris Paul had a lot to say this week in an ESPN Los Angeles phone interview about the state of he and Griffin’s relationship. He backed the flashy power forward with a strong vote of confidence, and was quick to say that they are on the same page after a summer of bonding. That will be put to the test as the Lakers will still be competitive.
A true rivalry?
While it may seem there’s a substantial talent disparity between the two teams in favor of the Clippers, the Lakers could potentially suit up three Hall of Famers if Bryant makes a speedy recovery from his Achilles’ injury.
Despite Gasol, Nash and Kobe’s ages, they’re still a force when healthy. How this game turns out will shape the framework for their remaining head-to-head games, which should all be meaningful in the scope of Western Conference supremacy.
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