It still is early, but the first returns for the Clippers and Lakers are familiar.
The Clippers are good but not great although they appear better than last year.
The Lakers still are two or three super stars away from being a good or great team.
Last Monday the Clippers gave up 74 first half points to the Warriors. The Clippers scored 57, but when you give up 74 in two quarters, it defensive problems even with the addition of Patrick Beverly, one of the best defenders.
The Clippers lost by a whopping 28, 141-113.
Although one game does not define a season, it can mean positives and negatives.
Positive: The Clippers may just have had a bad game. The Warriors came in 4-3, the Clippers 4-1. Hopefully Los Angeles can learn from this game.
Negative: The Clippers are at the crossroads of being an above-average team but not elite. Even without Chris Paul, now of the Houston Rockets, the Clippers still have Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. As long as they stay healthy, the Clippers can contend to be a middle of the pack playoff team.
The 3-4 Lakers look like the same below average team as last year. That can change.
Even without superstar talent the Lakers have enough ability to win more than 30 of their 82 games. That will not be enough to make the playoffs in the super competitive Western Conference.
If the Lakers make the playoffs that would be considered outstanding.
If highly regarded point guard Lonzo Ball and another rookie, Kyle Kuzma, can continue to get better, the Lakers will improve on last year. Their biggest problem: Their other young players — Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. — are not consistent.
The Clippers are home Saturday against red-hot first place Memphis team at 12:30 and Miami on Sunday at 12:30.
The Lakers are home Friday against Brooklyn at 7:30 and Sunday against Memphis at 6:30.
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