After months of waiting and a week of scrimmages, NBA games finally returned into action and we get to watch our favorite teams to compete again and see their chances of winning the NBA title. If we can recall, the NBA commissioner, Adam Silver, had decided to suspend the season’s remaining games when Rudy Gobert had tested positive with the coronavirus. During the hiatus, the league had looked for a way to resume their games again and after a series of discussions by the NBA board of governors, the players association, and other essential staff, the NBA will resume its basketball games and its operation again. The way that the commissioner handled the issue of the pandemic and resumption of the league should be praised as it seems working perfectly fine. In fact, up to this date, no one tested positive from COVID-19 from the people that are inside the bubble.
Alongside the NBA’s comeback is the promotion of the Black Lives Matter Movement. From the text written in the court and different messages were written on the jerseys of several players, it can be seen that the league fully supported the campaign and it is pretty amazing to see people particularly those who have a platform or a voice to inform other people and be a part of something good for the society and to their respective communities. This could be also one of the biggest places wherein you can share your thoughts, fight for change, and spread the message that the world needed to see. What’s even more amazing is that some international players like Luka Doncic, Nicolo Melli, Serge Ibaka, and others have decided to use their native language to showcase their message. In addition to that, ads were also shown and it could be impactful as it spreads knowledge and it helps others to understand the meaning of the Black Lives Matter campaign.
Furthermore, before starting the games, players and coaches have taken the knee and locked arms during the national anthem and try to send a message to the world. It was inspired by the move of Colin Kaepernick, former NFL quarterback and now a free-agent, in which he kneeled during the anthem demonstrating his fight against racial injustice and police brutality. Players also have worn Black Lives Matter shirts to support and to raise attention to the world about the movement. It also can be seen that some players particularly LeBron James, raising their fists during the peaceful protest.
As the NBA season made its comeback, the first day is composed of two games – Jazz-Pelicans and Clippers-Lakers. Both games are close and they went toe to toe as the games ended with big shots and big plays from the winning team’s stars. The Jazz won with 106-104 score against the Pelicans all thanks to Gobert’s crucial made free throws.
Battle of Los Angeles
The second game of the NBA season’s comeback is the much-awaited battle of two Los Angeles franchise teams. The rivalry is put into the test as their stars battle it out for the fourth time in the season. Having this game is a treat especially for basketball fans as it could be a preview of the Western Conference Finals.
Clippers signing of Kawhi Leonard and trading up for Paul George in the offseason were one of the biggest news upon the start of the season. In addition to that, the trade for Anthony Davis and the Lakers’ line-up revamped is the story for the purple and gold. With LeBron James and Anthony Davis for the Lakers and Kawhi Leonard and Paul George for the Clippers, it sets up the rivalry between two Los Angeles teams and their fandoms both claiming that Los Angeles belongs to their respective teams.
Their first two games this season ended with Clippers’ win with scores 112-102 and 111-106 respectively. In both games, Leonard was stellar and scored 30+ points while playing elite defense against James. Meanwhile, the third iteration ended with the Lakers’ win with a score of 112-103 as James and Davis leading the charge having 28-8-9 and 30-7-2 on the stat sheet.
Well, the fourth game of the battle of Los Angeles did not disappoint as it also ended down to the wire. Both teams were rusty at the start and the Lakers have started strong but the Clippers made a comeback on their own before halftime. The third quarter is all about Davis empowering his team to close the gap between the two. Meanwhile, the final moments of the game ended in a thriller as George sank a three to cut the Lakers’ lead into one. Even though James had a rough game, he made the most crucial play of the game as he got the offensive rebound of his missed shot and made the open layup which given them the lead. Clippers got the chance to either tie the game or take the lead but with the emphatic defense of James, it helped the Lakers to seal the win. The final score was 103-101, a victory for the Lakers, with Davis scoring 34 points and James having an all-around game with 16 points, 11 rebounds, and 7 assists. For the Clippers side, Leonard and George had scored 28 and 30 points respectively.
One of the things that come to my mind is that the Lakers could be in trouble if they continue playing this way as the Clippers didn’t have Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell on their lineup yet they didn’t take full advantage of it and ended as a close game. Imagine the Clippers with the complete roster and the Lakers playing sloppy could put them in trouble when they face again in the playoffs. Well, the game plan could be different and James will keep on attacking smaller defenders through switches aside from Davis doing the work just like in this game.
Another thing is that the way LeBron played his defense on the game, particularly to Kawhi. For the past seasons, his defense was questionable because it could be he was saving some energy for much crucial games. But this season was different and he seems more locked-in at the defensive side. This could be important come playoff time. However, his offense in the game is bad but I believe after some games and slight adjustments, he could regain his groove and provide some damage like he used to.
The bench is crucial for both teams as the Clippers seem to miss the scoring that Harrell and Williams are providing. Meanwhile, in the Lakers’ side, Kyle Kuzma was efficient from downtown and provided 16 points off the bench. Added to that, the signing of Dion Waiters could be impactful as the team played better with him on the floor. His scoring prowess and shot creation could be helpful especially when he handles the ball for the team’s second unit. JR Smith didn’t do much on this game but he could still be an X-factor when he scored in bunches particularly in threes and make some key defensive plays.
The Marcus Morris trade seems to be not working against the Lakers as he was destroyed by Davis in the block. In addition to that, in two games that he played, he only scored a single point. In my opinion, Maurice Harkless was a better defender as he handled the match-up better against Davis before his trade. Well, there could be some adjustments that can be made, and let’s just wait and see for their next games. Even Ivica Zubac is getting pummelled by Davis in the paint and he got quick fouls during he defended Davis. I believe that when they face each other again, Harrell will getting the most minutes manning AD.
Paul George looks like an MVP-caliber player again and having this kind of gameplay could be a serious problem for the Lakers. He scored 30 points very seamlessly and even hit the crucial shots at the end of the game. Add the fact that he is an elite defender that could affect Lakers’ offense.
What are your thoughts about the Clippers-Lakers IV? Do you think this match-up could be the preview of Western Conference Finals? If not, who do you think will reach the conference finals? Which team would likely win the NBA championship in October? Feel free to share your opinions here.
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