Both Los Angeles NBA teams made waves this summer when the Lakers added Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans and the Clippers poached Kawhi Leonard from the Toronto Raptors and traded for Paul George from the Oklahoma City Thunder. Both teams are off to scorching hot starts, with the Lakers atop the conference at 15-2 and the Clippers sitting pretty at 13-5. Notably the Lakers have had their duo healthy for the entire season, whereas Paul George only recently made his debut, and Leonard has missed a number of games with a nagging leg injury (that somehow netted the Clippers a fine due to comments made by coach Doc Rivers). Last night the Clippers thoroughly dominated the Dallas Mavericks and their early season MVP candidate point guard Luka Doncic on national TV, 114-99.
Kawhi Leonard is out for the Clippers next game, further complicating a health situation that seemingly nobody in the NBA understands, but from the small sample size fans have been treated to, when Leonard and George are on the floor, the Clippers are a frightening team. Along with these two elite wing defenders, the Clippers have professional nuisance Patrick Beverly bothering opposing point guards. The combination results in an incredibly physical brand of defense that punishes any unsuspecting ball handler.
Toss in the league's premier bench duo, Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell, and the Clippers do not let other team's take a play off. Last night, while Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis were resting at the start of the 4th quarter (and coach Rick Carlisle arguably left them on the bench too long), the Clippers were able to roll out their stars due to the extra minutes of rest their elite bench bought them at the end of the 3rd quarter. It will take an incredibly tough and deep roster to beat these Clippers in a 7 game playoff series, assuming Leonard and George can stay healthy, of course.