The Los Angeles Lakers, the defending NBA champions, became the first team to reach 10 wins this season. LeBron James and Anthony Davis guided the Lakers to the best record in the league with an 11-4 clip through the first 15 games of the season. The LA Clippers (10-4) boast the second-best record in the NBA behind the Lakers, and they recently became only the second team in the league to win at least 10 games.
Last season, the prevailing narrative was that the road to the NBA championship went through LA because you’d either have to deal with the Clippers or the Lakers if you want to win the title.
This season, it’s looking like a similar narrative is forming in the shadows of Hollywood. The defending champion Lakers and the Clippers are once again the teams to beat in the Western Conference.
|NBA TOP 10 TEAMS (WINS)|
- LA Lakers 11-4
- LA Clippers 10-4
- Utah Jazz 9-4
- Milwaukee Bucks 9-5
- Brooklyn Nets 9-6
- Philadelphia 76ers 9-5
- Boston Celtics 8-4
- Indiana Pacers 8-5
- San Antonio Spurs 8-6
- Portland Trail Blazers 8-6
At the Mirage Casino in Las Vegas, you can back the Lakers to win the 2021 NBA Championship at +250 odds. The Clippers are the third-highest team on the NBA futures board at +600 odds to win the NBA title.
Bucks, Jazz, and Nets on Verge of Double-Digit Wins
The Milwaukee Bucks (9-5) missed an opportunity to join the 10-win club last night. Greek Freak and the Bucks were outgunned by the Brooklyn Nets. Even without Kyrie Irving, the dynamic duo of James Harden and Kevin Durant has already produced two wins since Harden joined the Nets in a blockbuster, four-team trade.
The Bucks have the second-best home record in the league at 6-1. They have three home games this week, including the Lakers coming to Milwaukee on Thursday night. Greek Freak vs. LeBron James will be must-see TV.
The Brooklyn Nets (9-6) are still wondering when Irving will return to the lineup after missing seven games due to “personal reasons.” Without Irving, the Nets rattled off four-straight wins. They hit the road this week for a two-game stand against the Cleveland Cavs (6-7).
The Utah Jazz (9-4) are flying under the radar as the third-best team in the west. The Jazz won five in a row thanks to one of the league’s top guard trios. Donovan Mitchell leads the Jazz with 23.2 ppg, followed by Sixth Man Jordan Clarkson (17.5 ppg), and starting point guard Mike Conley (16.8 ppg, 6 assists). The Jazz will have their hands full this week with two games against Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans (5-7).
On Deck: Lakers Take a 7-Game Road Trip, Greek Freak Awaits
The Lakers travel well with a perfect 7-0 clip on the road. They face a huge challenge with seven-consecutive road games between now and the first of February. Their hellacious road trip starts in the Midwest (at Milwaukee, at Chicago, at Cleveland), then heads east (Philly, Detroit, Boston), and south (Atlanta). LeBron James doesn’t play like a 36-year old, but his bones might feel it by next weekend.
Expect the Lakers to rely on their expanded bench (Montrezl Harrell) and younger players (AD and Dennis Schroder).
The Lakers lost a heartbreaker to the Golden State Warriors last night. Steph Curry shrugged off a poor shooting night, but rallied the Warriors to steal a 115-113 win in LA. The Warriors were down 14 points late in the fourth quarter, but the Lakers also imploded down the stretch. For only the second time in 15 games, someone other than Davis or LeBron was the Lakers’ top scorer (Schroder).
STEPHEN CURRY FROM THE BAY pic.twitter.com/kCa85pwwfG
— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) January 19, 2021
On Deck: Clippers Face the Kings and Thunder
With the Lakers on the road, the Clippers (10-4) have the benefit of three more home games this week in sunny Los Angeles. The Clippers are riding high on a five-game winning streak, and look to extend it when the Sacramento Kings (5-9) come to town.
The Clippers will host the Oklahoma City Thunder (6-6) for a two-game homestand later this week/weekend.
Paul George leads the Clippers with 24.8 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 5.1 assists per game, while Kawhi Leonard averages 24.3 ppg, 5.1 rebounds, and 5.9 assists per game.
Nicolas Batum, a multi-positional swingman, is beloved by fantasy basketball geeks because ESPN listed him at three positions (SG, SF, PF). Batum averages 9.9 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1.2 steals per game. He’s also shooting a career-high 48.4% from the floor, and a sizzling 42.6% from 3-point land.
Batum, playing in his first season with the Clippers, has become the team’s most efficient scorer. He’s willing to do all the other dirty work on the court, which has quickly earned him respect among Clippers’ fans.