When the LA Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers opened the 2019-20 season last October, it was billed as a battle between giants. The Clippers with Kawhi Leonard and the Lakers with LeBron James, both squaring-off to be recognized (temporarily) as the best team in Los Angeles — and possibly the league.
The Clippers won the first two acts, but ultimately, the Lakers came away as league champions in 2020.
Both teams have undergone enormous change since then, but ahead of their all-important matchup on Tuesday night, one thing remains the same: These are still two of the best — if not the best — teams in the NBA.
For the Clippers, that change is most evident in the revamped coaching staff. Tyronn Lue has replaced Doc Rivers, and Lue's staff is full of mostly new faces that should help the team form a new identity on both ends of the floor. Notable names include Dan Craig, Chauncey Billups and Kenny Atkinson.
That said, LA's roster features some new faces as well. Nicolas Batum, Serge Ibaka and Luke Kennard will all play significant roles for the Clippers in 2021, with Ibaka's being the most prominent. The seven-footer is replacing Ivica Zubac in the starting rotation, giving the Clippers a more versatile offensive group without sacrificing defense.
The Lakers' roster changes have been more drastic. Los Angeles added two of the three finalists for the 2019-20 Sixth Man of the Year award in Dennis Schroder and former Clippers big Montrezl Harrell and swept up Wesley Matthews and Marc Gasol via free agency. The defending champs have improved, and that's something that should concern challengers to the throne.
As the first of many meetings between the two this season, Tuesday's game will offer the least to glean of the bunch — especially considering how quick the turnaround was for each team. The Lakers will almost certainly look more like a finished product than the Clippers, who are still working on implementing new sets and figuring out how to play under Lue, but it should still be a competitive contest between two Western Conference heavyweights.
The LA Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers will tip-off at approximately 7:00 p.m. PT. The contest will air on TNT.