The Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers will meet for a final time during the regular season in the battle of L.A.
But so far, that battle has been one-sided, as the Clippers already own two wins over the Lakers this season and could sweep the season series with a victory Thursday.The Clippers won 116-109 in the season opener for both teams on Dec. 22, then cruised by the Lakers again 104-86 on April 4.
The teams could actually meet in an early playoff preview that would have all of Los Angeles riveted.
If the playoffs started today, the Clippers and Lakers would be facing off in the first round of the playoffs.
The Clippers (44-22) are the No. 3 team in the Western Conference, and the Lakers (37-28) are currently No. 6.
Even though the Clippers have a chance to sweep the Lakers during the regular season for the first time since the 2015-16 season, head coach Tyronn Lue said his team isn't putting any more weight on Thursday's matchup.
"We're just working on us," Lue said. "Trying to get our good habits back. We're trying to get everyone back healthy and working on our rotations and seeing who works well together. So, the biggest thing for me is working on ourselves."
Losers of three of their past four games, the Clippers play host to the Lakers and New York Knicks before finishing the regular season on the road for the last four games.
As Lue said, the Clippers appear to be getting healthy at the right time.
Superstar Kawhi Leonard played in his second straight game after missing nine games in April with a sore right foot.
Point guard Patrick Beverley returned to the floor in a 105-100 win over the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday after missing the past 12 games with a fractured left hand. Beverley finished with eight points, shooting 3 of 5 from the field. Beverley also had three assists and a steal in 15 minutes off the bench.
The Lakers are coming off a much-needed 93-89 victory over the Denver Nuggets at home earlier this week. Anthony Davis had his best game since returning from a right calf strain, finishing with 25 points and seven rebounds.
However, the Lakers will be playing without their two primary ball handlers.
LeBron James returned for two games last week, after a six-week absence due to a right, high-ankle sprain but missed his team's win over the Nuggets on Monday after aggravating the ankle over the weekend in a loss to Toronto. He will sit out at least Thursday's game against the Clippers to allow for more recovery time.
Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said James is day-to-day.
"With him playing the two games back, he needed those games to kind of test it out and see where he was at," Vogel said. "After those two games, we talked to him and the medical team, and just decided he needed a little bit more time."
Point guard Dennis Schroder missed the Denver game due to the NBA's health and safety protocols, and will be out 10 to 14 days, according to the team. And Talen Horton-Tucker is questionable with a right calf strain.
Alex Caruso started at point guard in place of Schroder, and Kyle Kuzma in place of James in Monday's win over the Nuggets, but the Lakers had trouble taking care of the basketball, finishing with 20 turnovers.
--Field Level Media