Every week, our staff writers chime in on the trending topics, rumors and storylines surrounding the Lakers. In today’s State of the Nation, we dive into the Lakers’ playoff picture, pick our favorite first round opponent, and most importantly, try to figure out just how far this Lakers team can go
if once they get in.
Assuming the Lakers make the playoffs, who would you rather they face: Spurs, Thunder, or Clippers?
Belal Abdelfattah // @KyrieSWERVEing:
Of those three teams, there’s really only one squad I would hate to see and that’s the Thunder. The Lakers are familiar with the Spurs and have actually played them well this season despite missing key players in both games. The Clippers are scary when they get running and have a deep bench. But let’s be real here, a seven-game series with all games at Staples gives the Lakers homecourt for all seven games, no matter what Clipper fans want you to believe.
Alex Lambeth // @AlexLambeth:
Despite having the best record in the NBA, the Spurs are ultimately the best matchup for the Lakers. In the two past match-ups this season, the Lakers only lost by 2 points at home and 3 points in San Antonio. With a full, healthy roster, the Lakers can match the Spurs depth and pull the 1-8 upset over the Spurs.
John Gaffer // @jewelslamo:
I’m a bit of a sadist, so I say bring on the Thunder. Lakers are going to have to go through them at some point in the playoffs, so why not knock out the favored heavyweight? Beat them & suddenly the Finals look like a realistic goal. It would be like the little, scared, scrawny kid giving the school bully a bloody nose. Besides, Kobe wouldn’t sleep at night if Fisher got another ring before he does.
Bummi Anderson // @BummiNAnderson:
Out of three teams, it is best to avoid the Thunder. Lakers would be in better position to advance vs Spurs due to better match ups and vs Clips due to rivalry.
James Cypert // @JamesCypert:
On a historical level, it would be satisfying to watch another Popovich-D’Antoni playoff series (in which Popovich is 12-4 in playoff games against D’Antoni). But more importantly, should the Lakers pull off the upset against the Spurs, the Lakers would likely face Denver or Memphis is the second round, much easier match-ups for them than the Clippers or Thunder in Round 2. If choosing the Clippers or Thunder, the Lakers essentially have to play all three teams in order to make the NBA Finals, a hellish stretch for any team.
Felipe Amaral // @F_Amaral:
Even though facing the Clippers could be interesting since the Lakers would remain in the same city for the whole series, the Spurs are a better matchup for the Purple and Gold. The Lakers can struggle a lot with speedy teams and that’s what the Thunder and the Clippers are. Any of the three would be tough challenges, but the Spurs present a style of basketball that better fits the Lakers’ slower pace.
Oren Levy // @LakersOren:
The key is to avoid OKC until the conference finals if possible, and hope another team plays traffic cop for the Lakers, and knocks out the Thunder. So I’ll pick any seed/team that keeps the Lakers out of OKC’s bracket until the WCF.
Garrett Garcia // @GarrettGarcia:
If the Lakers are to in fact make the playoffs this season I believe their best match-up would be against the Clippers. What would be more exciting than an LA v. LA playoff series? I really think the Lakers would find a way to win this series and show who truly is king of L.A.
Melvin Taylor // @MelvinTaylorII:
I’m with Kobe on this one. There is nobody to fear in the West if the Lakers can make the playoffs The thing is they just have to keep their current spot if all else fails. I would rather face the Clippers or the Spurs in the opening round. The Thunder will be rolling by that point and could be too much for the Lakers that early. Playing the Spurs could would be beneficial for the Lakers as they have the talent advantage and could grind out majority of those wins. Playing the Clippers would be great due to the home court advantage. (It’s still the Lakers arena regardless of how good the Clippers are.) Lob City struggles when they are forced to play in the half court. Thus could also be big brother showing little brother that no matter how good you think you are you will not beat me.
Robert Benitez // @Beeb0:
Even though we’re losing the season series with them, both games were close and both games the Lakers were not at full strength. Assuming the spurs can hold onto the first spot and Clippers the fourth, I’d rather see Spurs in the first round and Clippers in the second.
Anna Gonda // @AnnaLBG:
If the Lakers make the playoffs, I would rather they face the Minnesota Timberwolves…in every round. Between the Spurs, Thunder or Clippers, however, I think the Lakers match up best with the Spurs. They’ve beaten OKC just once at Staples Center, and have yet to defeat the Clippers this season. Unlike the young Thunder and Clipper squads, the Spurs are not the run-’n-gun type, which would suit the Lakers’ defensive abilities more.
Jordan Grant // @JordanGrant90:
Of the teams at the top, the Lakers easiest opponent would be the Spurs. The speed and athleticism of OKC and the Clippers would prove tough match-ups for the Lakers. Historically, the Lakers play the Spurs well. If they can minimize the effectiveness of Tony Parker(albeit no easy task), they would have a great shot at taking the series.
Ashkan Kargaran // @Aakargaran:
The Clippers and here’s why: All 7 games will be played in the Staples and regardless of the colors on the floor, the majority of fans will be wearing purple and gold. The Clippers’ biggest strengths as a team are their depth and their transition “lob city” game. In the playoffs, possessions are slower, turnovers are lower, and player rotations are kept around 8 or 9 per team. So the Clippers won’t be playing 11 guys a game like they have been for the regular season. They won’t be getting many baskets in transition and will therefore have to rely on their half-court offense which, outside of CP3 iso’s, has been non-existent. While this doesn’t necessarily mean the Lakers will beat the Clippers, they will definitely have a higher chance unlike facing the Spurs or Thunder.
Next Question: True or False: A healthy, motivated Lakers team can still compete for the Western Conference title in this years’ playoffs.