WHEN: Tuesday, Oct. 29 at 10:30 p.m. on TNT
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The opener between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers will not feature Kobe Bryant as he continues to rehab from a torn Achilles tendon suffered in April.
Bryant, 35, has been cleared for full weight-bearing running but has no definitive return date.
“He’ll be back when he can get back,” said Lakers Coach Mike D’Antoni (via ESPN LA.) “I’m sure he’s making progress and he’ll be back as soon as he can. … We’ll all see it together. We’re not trying to hide or pull a curtain back, Wizard of Oz is not behind the curtain. He’ll go when he can go.”
In his absence, the Lakers are likely to rely on two-time MVP Steve Nash and center Pau Gasol to carry the load. Nash, 39, only played in 50 games last season and is “battling a plethora of ailments” according to the team’s Web site.
After a broken leg and back/hamstring/hip issues derailed his 2012-13 season, Nash struggled to get to 100 percent through constant rehabilitation in the summer, only to subsequently deal with troublesome ankle and neck issues in the preseason. He described himself as “Not great, but good enough to go” heading into the season opener, and his taking at least some games off seem an inevitability.
The Lakers lost center Dwight Howard, who spent one embattled season with the team, to the Houston Rockets and amnestied forward Metta World Peace. In the offseason they added center Chris Kaman, guards Jordan Famar and Nick Young and forwards Wesley Johnson, Elias Harris and 2013 draft pick Ryan Kelly.
“I don’t expect a lot from the Lakers,” Barkley said on Monday Night Football with Chris Berman. “I don’t think the Lakers are going to make the playoffs.”
The Clippers, on the other hand, are favored by many pundits to win the Western Conference. The team returns all-star point guard Chris Paul and forward Blake Griffin to “Lob City” while adding sharpshooters J.J. Redick and Jared Dudley.
Having acquired former Coach Doc Rivers from the Boston Celtics to guide the Clippers, the team is predicted to repeat as Pacific Division champions, according to NBA.com’s annual survey of general managers.
Paul, 28, led the league with 2.41 steals per game last season while adding 9.4 assists per game. Center DeAndre Jordan was the league leader in field goal percentage at 64.3 percent.
Some even have the team taking home the NBA Finals trophy.
This might finally be the year they break through to win it all. That’s why they went out on a limb to pry Doc Rivers from Boston. There are only four active head coaches who have won a championship, so Doc’s voice is the rare voice that can back up what he says with a silent nod to the ring on his finger.
What are your predictions for the game? And which teams do you think will make it to the NBA Finals?