The Clippers and Lakers may not be the top two seeded teams in the western conference, but Doc Rivers believes the west still runs through them.
Rivers admitted that he's been watching the western conference from "afar" since he's in the eastern conference now. However, that still doesn't sway his decision from believing that the two LA teams are the best in the western conference.
Denver made great moves during the trade deadline, and Rivers gave them credit. He gave great praise to teams like the Nuggets, Jazz, and Blazers, but still believes the Lakers and Clippers have a better chance to win the championship.
"I thought Denver had a great trade deadline," Rivers said. "Utah is playing unbelievable basketball, so they are going to be right there. Portland, I thought improved their team as well. But I still think it's the Lakers and the Clippers."
No one knows the Clippers better than Doc Rivers, considering he's been their coach for practically a decade. While some believe they're the same team as last year, Rivers sees some stark difference. He believes the continuity has greatly helped them, and that their defense has changed from last season.
"The difference is they've had a chance to practice together," Rivers said. "I think they've given the ball to PG more, which I think has helped him. So they've made some good changes. The biggest change I see also is defensively. I think they are a better defensive team. It's funny, the numbers don't exactly say that, but when I watch them, I think they're going to be a better defensive team, one of the better defensive teams when the playoffs start."
The Clippers have been a much better team this last week, but their ultimate judgment will be the playoffs. All the best regular-season stats in the world don't necessarily transfer into playoff success, and the Clippers know that better than anyone.