The Los Angeles Clippers had a good opening week. I know that loss to the Los Angeles Lakers was a huge disappointment, but beating the Golden State Warriors the day after they hammered the Lakers and then following that up with a road win over the Sacramento Kings, a much improved Kings at that, has to leave the team feeling pretty good about the start.
It was imperative the Clippers got off to a good start because they are about to go through a tough stretch of games this week. First, on Monday, they take on the Houston Rockets, who have a highly motivated Dwight Howard and a dangerous James Harden along with a good supporting cast. After that they will go all the way to Florida for a back to back with the Orlando Magic and the Miami Heat on Wednesday and Thursday. The Magic at home might be a bit tougher than originally thought. And the Heat is, well, the Heat. Then on Saturday, it is a rematch with the Rockets in Houston.
A 2-2 record this week would not be a bad one for the Clippers. Split with the Rockets and beat the Magic and move on to week three at 4-3. To do that, they will likely need to win the game on Monday at home. It will be a big night at Staples when Howard returns for the first time since spurning the Lakers. Maybe some Lakers fans will show up and root for the Clippers.
The game to watch out for though is that one with Orlando. Teams playing that Florida double tend to focus on the Heat. This will give the Magic a chance to pull some upsets. If I were Doc Rivers, I would be telling my team that the Magic game is the big one, because what you do not want is for Florida to beat you twice.
You cannot just show up and beat the Magic right now. They took the Minnesota Timberwolves into overtime and hammered the New Orleans Pelicans in their home opener. They are not playing like a 20-win team right now.
The Heat are off to a bit of a slow start. Miami has already lost to the Philadelphia 76ers and the Brooklyn Nets in their last two games. This game might be one the Clippers can steal. If not, at least win the Orlando game and leave with a split.