The schedule has been released for the 2014-2015 NBA season and it has everyone around the league buzzing. The Los Angeles Clippers will be looking to take another step closer towards winning the franchise’s first ever Larry O’Brian trophy and people everywhere will have plenty of chances to watch the Clippers in their quest. The Clips’ have 32 nationally televised games on ESPN, ABC, TNT, and NBA TV respectively. We are counting down the 10 must see games on the 2014-2015 Los Angeles Clippers schedule. Let’s take a look at which pair of games get our countdown started.
10. Tuesday, April 14. Los Angeles Clippers @ Phoenix Suns. 10:30 TNT: On the last day of regular season play the Clippers will travel to the desert to square off against the Suns in a contest that is intriguing for several reasons. The timing could add a lot of meaning to this matchup. The Western Conference looks to be just as competitive if not more so than it was last season. Even on the closing days of the season clubs were still jockeying for playoff positioning and vying for playoff spots. I expect this year to be much of the same.
The Suns went 14 games over .500 last season yet they still missed the playoffs, but only by a game. With one of the most dynamic back courts in the NBA featuring Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe, great shooting off the bench in Gerald Green and recently signed Isiah Thomas, and solid two-way inside play with Miles Plumlee (and possibly Alex Len this year?) Jeff Hornacek’s high octane offense is poised to guide the Suns to the playoffs.
The Clippers took three of four meetings last year from their Pacific division counterpart, including a division clinching 112-108 come from behind thriller on April 2nd.
Watching Chris Paul and the rest of the LA Clippers backcourt square off against the Suns explosive guards should be enough incentive to stay up and watch this contest, especially with the playoff implications that I expect to be on the line.
9. Friday, October 31. Los Angeles Clippers @ Los Angeles Lakers. 10:30 ESPN: From the 82nd game to the second. Although the Lakers are not what they were four or five seasons ago, the Clippers-Lakers matchup is still a joy to watch. The Clips’ took three of four games last year from their Los Angeles counterparts, averaging 122 points per contest against the sorry Lakers’ defense.
The contests between the Clippers and Lakers are usually very free flowing and showcase some serious offense (partially due to both sides displaying some defense that would make James Harden cringe). It will be exciting to see what can expect from the new look Lakers. With Carlos Boozer, Jeremy Lin, and Julius Randle this matchup does not feature all the familiar faces we’ve come to know from the recent Laker teams. And of course, the Lakers will welcome back Kobe “Bean” Bryant.
Whenever Kobe Bryant steps on to a basketball court, he has a certain expectation of his teammates in terms of competitiveness and intensity. In other words, what the “Lake Show” displayed last year, especially on defense, will not be acceptable this season. In addition, new head coach Byron Scott will provide a stark contrast to former head coach Mike D’antoni’s notoriously lackluster defensive expectations.
Another aspect of this game which I believe is underrated is the Los Angeles Clippers’ desire to absolutely dismantle the Lakers. They are sick of hearing about how they might be the better team, but the Lakers still own the city. When Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan etc. step on the court their goal is to completely embarrass the guys in Purple & Gold. Their goal is to ensure that the city of Los Angeles never forgets this stretch in the city’s basketball history and this manifests itself in hard physical play, thunderous alley oops, and Doc Rivers’ unwillingness to call of the dogs when the Clippers are up big.
If that isn’t reason enough to watch Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul are squaring off, two of the most competitive stars in the league. These guys hate losing and this season the rivalry much more competitive with the Mamba back in the mix.