r737138 2 600x600 1 1 - Replay Madness

PLAYA VISTA, CA. — The Los Angeles Lakers and LA Clippers have played each other under the glaring Christmas Day and Opening Night spotlights, but Wednesday’s clash between the two hallway rivals actually will have playoff ramifications.

In what will be the biggest game of the season and quite possibly the most “meaningful” game for them, the Clippers and Lakers meet as they both desperately try to stay out of next week’s play-in tournament.

After all the hype during the past few seasons of the two teams contending for a title and possibly facing each other in a playoff series, this will actually be a game that will feel like a playoff battle between the teams that share the same hallway for their locker rooms at Crypto.com Arena.

“We never got to play them in a [playoff] series that the fans and everyone expected us to,” said Clippers center and former Laker Ivica Zubac before practice. “But this is as close as it gets so far.

“I think this is the most important game that I’ve been in with the Lakers [and] Clippers. You can feel it now. It’s gonna be biggest game of the season for both teams. I can’t wait.”

Adding to the intrigue and drama will be the fact that this is Russell Westbrook‘s first game against his former Lakers team since he was traded to Utah and then bought out of his contract, allowing him to sign with the Clippers.

Westbrook’s season and a half with the Lakers fell far short of expectations, and the always-amped-up Westbrook will be highly motivated to face LeBron James and the Lakers.

Westbrook’s new Clippers teammates know how much this game will mean to the former MVP point guard, who has fit in well with his new team.

“We know what’s been said [in] the media, what’s been said about him and his time there,” guard Norman Powell said. “We’ve always shown the support since Day 1 since he’s got here and bringing him into the fold, bringing him into the family.

“For any player, going up against a former organization that you were just with, you want to kind of stick it to them. So I think it’s an important game for him and us as well.”

The Clippers (41-38) entered Tuesday night’s games clinging to fifth place in the Western Conference, even with the Golden State Warriors, Lakers and New Orleans Pelicans in the loss column.

They will be short-handed against the Lakers without All-Star Paul George (sprained knee). Clippers coach Tyronn Lue did say that guard Eric Gordon would see how his injured hip feels in practice on Tuesday and that Marcus Morris Sr. is out of health and safety protocols.

While they have won 10 straight against the Lakers, the Clippers say they feel this meeting, which will be a Clippers home game, won’t be like any other.

“It’s different now,” Lue said when asked why the Clippers have had so much recent head-to-head success against the Lakers. “A lot’s at stake right now. They’re playing at a high level and this is the first meaningful game that we’ve actually played.

“I’m excited for it. We’ll see what happens. I don’t know why we’ve been so good [against the Lakers], but tomorrow will be different.”

Source link

Clippers ready for ‘most important game’ ever against Lakers