After undergoing a four-month hiatus, the 2019-20 NBA season is finally back to action and recently featured a clash between the two best teams in the Western Conference — the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers. With a 103-101 victory on Thursday night, the Lakers have succeeded to even their score with the Clippers. During the fourth regular-season matchup between the two Los Angeles teams, Jonathan Tjarks of The Ringer noticed one major thing that could prevent the Clippers from fully dominating the Western Conference and bringing home their first Larry O’Brien Trophy this year.
With the way they created their roster, the Clippers have plenty of players that could guard and limit LeBron James’ production on the offensive end of the floor, including Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Marcus Morris Sr., JaMychal Green, and even Montrezl Harrell. However, by focusing so much on James, the Clippers might have forgotten that the Lakers also have another legitimate superstar on their roster: Anthony Davis. According to Tjarks, Thursday’s game showed that the Clippers are built to beat James, but not Davis.
“The Clippers don’t have an answer for Anthony Davis. LeBron James made the key plays down the stretch of the Lakers’ dramatic 103-101 win on NBA Reopening Night on Thursday, but Davis was the difference in the game. He had 34 points, eight rebounds, and four assists, and dominated the paint on both ends of the floor. The scary part for the Clippers is that he could have done even more. The game comes so simply to Davis that it’s easy to forget just how talented he is. He’s one of the most versatile 7-footers in NBA history. On defense, he made Kawhi Leonard look human.”
The Clippers currently have Harrell, Ivica Zubac, and Joakim Noah manning the center position, but none of them could effectively guard Davis. Harrell may be a great defender, but Davis could easily take advantage of his lack of size whenever they face each other on the court. The same thing goes for Zubac, who obviously needs more experience to defend All-Star-caliber big men.
Meanwhile, the Clippers tried to address one of the major frontcourt weaknesses by signing Noah, a former Defensive of Player of the Year. However, at 35, Noah is clearly past his prime. Though he is still capable of protecting the rim, he isn’t mobile enough to go up against a floor-spacing big man like Davis.
Davis would undeniably be a matchup nightmare for the Clippers, especially when they face the Purple and Gold in a best-of-seven series. If they are serious about beating the Purple and Gold, Tjarks advised the Clippers not to make the same mistake the Milwaukee Bucks did in last year’s Eastern Conference Finals against the Toronto Raptors. Instead of letting their role players handle the most difficult task on the defensive end, he suggested that Coach Doc Rivers shouldn’t think twice before assigning George or Leonard to guard Davis in the upcoming playoffs.