Lebron James and The Lakers Made A Statement This Weekend

You can’t have a better weekend than Lebron James and the Lakers just had. They kicked off the weekend with a statement win against the Milwaukee Bucks, with James reminding voters that this MVP race isn’t over yet. On Sunday James and the Lakers doubled down, taking out Kawhi and the Clippers. By taking out the two title favorites in back to back games, the Lakers put to rest the narrative that they can’t beat the elite teams. Friday’s game against the Bucks was impressive, and more so about the James-Antetokounmpo matchup. In reality it was just an appetizer leading up to the game we all been anticipating on Sunday afternoon against the Clippers.

Setting the Tone

Avery Bradley set the tone early, letting it be known this game would be different. Bradley stole the ball from Patrick Beverley in the first quarter, drove in for a layup, and got in the face of Beverly. The refs blew the whistle, giving Bradley a technical foul, but I think we can all agree it was a tech worth getting.

Anthony Davis

A welcoming sight in this game was Anthony Davis, who often looked like the best player on the floor. Davis dominated the first half, and stayed strong throughout. He finished with 30 points, 8 rebounds, and a plus minus of +12. When you look at this Lakers-Clippers matchup, Davis is the key advantage the Lakers have. The Clippers big-men, Ivica Zubac and Montrez Harrell, can not matchup to the skillset of Davis. Zubac is too slow and weak, and Harrell being undersized. Keep an eye on the Davis matchup if the Battle of L.A. makes its way to the playoffs.

Lebron James-Kawhi Leonard Matchup

In the words of Stephen A Smith “That’s what the F–k I’m talking about. King James going right at Kawhi and the Clippers.” We can talk about the hype coming into these Lakers-Clippers games being about the “battle for L.A,” but what most off us wanted to see was: will James respond? Will he go right at Leonard and take over the 4th quarter, like Leonard did in the first two meetings. James gave us a definitive answer.

James took over the 4th quarter, and out played Leonard in this 3rd meeting. He notched 12 points and three assists in the fourth quarter, icing the game with a late layup. For the game, James went for 27 points on 7-of-17 shooting, with 7 boards and 9 assists.

While Leonard also went for 27 points, he lacked to match James’ complete game. Leonard only managed 2 rebounds and a goose egg in the assist column. But the more noticeable thing about Leonard was he did not dictate the pace of the game like he did in the first two meetings, and didn’t move with the same energy.

Frank Vogel made a number of adjustments this time around, but one worked to perfection and stood out. By using a number of screens he forced Lou Williams to guard James, which is an obvious mismatch. Singling out the worst defender on the team, and getting guys like Leonard, Paul George, and Beverly off James, it allowed easy buckets for the Lakers.

Welcome to the Clippers Paul George

George has had a rough season thus far. In and out of the rotation while dealing with injuries, he hasn’t got into the flow of things. But this felt like a “welcome back” game for George as he led all scorers with 31 points. While being the best Clipper on the floor, George’s only downside to his performance was that he disappeared in the 4th quarter. 29 of his 31 points came in the first 3 quarters.

Looking Ahead

These two teams are destined to meet in the Western Conference Finals. While what we saw in this game is a blueprint for the Lakers success, adjustments will be made and things will change. For the Lakers they will go as far as James and Davis take them. As for the Clippers, while they will lean on Leonard and George, they will find the usage of their depth will lead to their success. Both teams know their blue print to success, it will ultimately come down to execution of the game plan.


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