The Los Angeles Clippers made big news last year when they acquired Chris Paul from the New Orleans Hornets. The move gave the fans in Los Angeles hope that the Clippers would become a contender in the Western Conference, and that they could finally step out of the shadow of the dominant Los Angeles Lakers.
The Lakers answered back, though, with two huge moves this offseason, as they acquired Steve Nash and Dwight Howard. The moves by the Lakers made them instant title contenders, if they were not already, but they have struggled to begin the new season to say the least.
Friday night the two superstar-studded teams will clash in a battle for Los Angeles. And with the Lakers struggling, this is the moment Chris Paul and the Clippers have been waiting for; a chance to show that they are no longer the inferior team in Los Angeles, but are instead the team to beat.
Paul will obviously be the biggest key for the Clippers, and he is expected to have a huge night with the health of Lakers point guard Steve Nash in question. With Nash out, Paul will likely have his way on offense, with a Los Angeles defense that has struggled through two games so far this season. Even with Nash on the court, though, Los Angeles has struggled on defense, so his absence may not matter that much.
Offensively, Nash will certainly be missed in Friday night's matchup if he does not play, and the Clippers will need to take advantage of this absence. The Lakers have struggled implementing the Princeton-style offense so far this year, and the Clippers hope those struggles continue.
The biggest key for the Clippers is Jamal Crawford. Crawford exploded for 29 points in the Clippers' first game against the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night, and they need him to continue his success. The Clippers already have superstar players in Paul and Blake Griffin, and if they are able to get the rest of their roster hot, it will make them very tough to beat.
Friday night's game is huge for both the Clippers and the Lakers. For the Clippers, though, it is a chance to prove that they finally belong in the conversation of NBA title contenders, and to show that the Lakers may no longer be the best team that resides in Los Angeles.