Wednesday night, the Clippers opened the 2012-2013 NBA season in style, easily beating the Memphis Grizzles, despite below average performances by the entire starting lineup. A major strength for the Clippers this season is their fabulous bench, which contributed an amazing 49 points. Contrast this with the Lakers, possessors of perhaps the worst bench of any title contender in the league. Also of note is the fact that the Clippers 49 bench points was accomplished with Grant Hill out with an injury, Matt Barnes serving a game suspension, and bench guy Willie Green starting due to Chauncey Billups not yet being ready to play. A full Clippers’ bench could well surpass 49 points per game on a regular basis.
The Lakers’ problems heading into tonight’s game run deeper, as we discussed following their loss to Portland, and before the season opener. Besides total ineptitude on the bench, they do not play defense, their newly installed Princeton offense is a joke, they have no coaching leadership capable of bringing the divergent talents of the newly acquired players into sync with the established team members, and at least for tonight, if not for longer, they will be without the injured Steve Nash. Other than all that, everything is fine in Lakerland.
I expect to see a tight game for maybe the first quarter, maybe even a Laker lead. But the depth, coaching, and cohesiveness of the Clippers will eventually mean a 2-0 start, and an 0-3 Laker record, on their way to a perfect season.
On another note, Oklahoma City’s terrible last minute loss to San Antonio last night demonstrates without a doubt the fact that they made a monumental error is trading away James Harden. His loss will keep them from repeating as Western Conference champs. They traded away their chance for an NBA title. Period.