Who ya got?
They're the better team right now
I don't think a Lakers-Clippers playoff series at the moment would even go to a Game 7, but if it did, I'd pick the Clippers. This might sound crazy for those who still believe Kobe Bryant would find a way to will the Lakers to a win in Game 7 of a playoff series, but the Clippers are simply a better team than the Lakers right now, and it's not even close.
Just look at the teams' records. One team is about 20 games over .500, and the other has been below .500 the entire season.
Forget for the moment that we're talking about the Lakers and Clippers and ignore the history of both teams, which has nothing to do with the here and now.
The Clippers have everything that the Lakers lack this season. They have the deepest team in the league and come off the bench with the likes of Jamal Crawford, Eric Bledsoe, Matt Barnes, Lamar Odom and Grant Hill. They're a quick team that likes to score in transition with Chris Paul running the show and dishing lob dunks to Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. They're also a team with no drama -- Paul has even turned the locker room into a family-friendly place, with players' children running around after games.
This isn't to say the Clippers are going to win it all and hang a banner up at Staples Center, but they certainly have a better chance of doing that this season than the Lakers.
The playoffs change everything
It has been a season of "wait untils" for the Lakers. Wait until Dwight Howard gets healthy. Wait until we learn the Princeton offense. Wait until Mike D'Antoni has time to teach his offense. Wait until Steve Nash gets back from his broken leg. Wait until they all get healthy, all at once.
But there is one "wait until" that, frankly, is the only one that matters: "Wait until the playoffs."
As inconsistent as the Lakers have been, as disappointing as it's all been, this team really is built to win in the playoffs, where star-laden, top-heavy teams tend to thrive.
If they were to face off in the playoffs, the Clippers would and should be favored. But the Lakers would have two huge advantages: star power and experience. They have four players who have at one point in their careers been the No. 1 options on their teams. Four players who can win a game by themselves.
The Clippers also wouldn't enjoy the home-court advantage against the Lakers that they would against any other opponent. There would be no travel (a benefit to the older Lakers). And if it got to a Game 7, it would mean the Lakers had beaten the favored team three times, putting all the pressure on the Clippers.
Yes, I know the Clippers won a tough Game 7 on the road in Memphis last year. That counts for a lot and says even more about Chris Paul and his teammates. But that's Memphis. This would be beating the Lakers with, at best, a crowd split 50-50 between the teams, and all those banners up in the rafters looking down at you. Could the Clippers do it? Sure. But if I'm them, I never let it get that far.