Just a little over a month is all the Clippers have left before they attempt to climb to the top of the West, but just under a month is how long the Clips actually need to wait before they get back out on the court.
NBA preseason is rearing its head fast, and the LA Clippers are gearing up to face five opponents.
Let’s look at their five rivals for this preseason.
Clippers Say “Aloha” to Houston and Shanghai
For their first two preseason games, the Clips will be taking a trip further out west to beautiful Hawaii yet again. They’ll have to take on their conference rivals in the Houston Rockets on October 3rd, and then they’ll close out their trip to Hawaii with a fun match against China’s Shanghai Sharks.
The Houston Rockets game will be a very interesting look into what might be one of the must-see matchups of the season. Over the offseason, the Rockets acquired former OKC superstar Russell Westbrook in exchange for former Clipper Chris Paul. He’ll be added onto an already star-studded roster including James Harden.
Here at Clippers Nation, we went over the potential these two teams show in our article about where the Clippers stand in the west, but to recap, the Rockets are looking like tough contenders now with the lack of locker room toxicity, and Russell Westbrook will really get a chance to show some of his best stuff. The Clippers look to compete against this with their in-tact core from last year that surprised fans and analysts alike, only now with the additions of two key players in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.
In terms of the Shanghai Sharks game on October 6th, that matchup promises to be fun at the very least. Owned by a former NBA star in Yao Ming, they’re looking like a pretty young team that’s coming up through a league of their own. Two budding teams going head to head in an U.S. vs. China battle. It promises to have an NBA vs CBA feeling in the air, and may the best league win.
Going Back to Cali For Denver and Melbourne
Coming back from Hawaii, the Clippers will play two games at the Staples Center against the Denver Nuggets on October 1oth and Melbourne United of Australia on October 13th. Three of the next four Clippers games (preseason and regular season) will be home games at Staples Center, so they’ll be off to a good start with some home cooking.
The Clips/Nuggets matchup on October 10th will be another chapter in the story these two young and rising franchises are writing together. The Nuggets finally got back to the playoffs after a five-year wait, and they did so by almost dethroning Golden State at the top of the Western Conference. Nikola Jokic put up some unreal numbers by playing spectacularly with his team to almost put away the Portland Trailblazers in round two, but the past is the past, and this is an early test in their possible climb back towards the top. This will be another key matchup for the Clippers throughout the season.
Melbourne United’s game on October 13th will share a fun atmosphere similar to the Shanghai Sharks game considering that the teams won’t meet again for quite a while. Melbourne United are a year out of their last championship, and they have an incredible ten NBL Grand Finals appearances. They even made it back last year but were beaten in four games. They’re serious contenders again, and the Clippers might look to take some hints from them on their journey to a possible Finals appearance.
Finishing Off Up North Against Dallas
In their last game of the preseason before their first regular-season game against the Los Angeles Lakers, the LA Clippers will battle against the Dallas Mavericks in Canada on October 17th. They’ll be squaring off at Rogers Arena, home of the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks.
The Mavericks seem to be another one of those western teams on the rise with plenty of young talent arriving. Despite the loss of long-time fan favorite Dirk Nowitzki, they look tough enough to possibly contend for a playoff spot with the likes of Luka Doncic, former Clipper Boban Marjanovic, and Steph Curry’s very talented brother in Seth Curry. Things are looking up for a Dallas franchise that was once full of uncertainty. The Clippers have still played the team relatively well before and hope to keep things clean in their favor again this year. It’ll be a gritty matchup right before the toughest of the regular season.
The LA Clippers have some great challenges ahead of them in the 2019 preseason, including some key games against teams that might be the deciders of where the Clippers fall by the end of the 2019-2020 season.
They also have two fun interleague matchups that will face them up with the talents of the CBA and the NBL. Two in Hawaii, two in LA, and one in Canada, they’ll be all over the place in what should be a fun preseason.
Statistics Courtesy: basketball-reference.com Pictures Courtesy: The Honolulu Star Adviser and the Los Angeles Times