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5 things to know before Lakers-Clippers showdown on Wednesday

The Lakers and Clippers will face off in a key Western Conference matchup in Los Angeles.

This Lakers-Clippers matchup will have a major impact on the Western Conference standings.

Here’s everything you need to know before the Los Angeles Lakers and LA Clippers face off Wednesday (10 p.m. ET, ESPN):

1. What’s at stake in the standings

The No. 6 Clippers and No. 7 Lakers enter Wednesday’s matchup with matching 41-38 records, but are opposing sides of the all-important Playoffs vs. Play-In line of demarcation. By virtue of owning the head-to-head tiebreaker, the Clippers hold the No. 6 spot entering the matchup.

The winner of this game will leap to the No. 5 spot on Wednesday, passing the idle Golden State Warriors (42-38) via tiebreaker. The Lakers own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the defending champs (3-1); and while the Clippers split their season series with the Warriors (2-2), they own the superior division record (7-7 in Pacific Division) over Golden State (6-9).

Both the Lakers and Clippers are guaranteed to at least qualify for the Play-In Tournament as they can finish no worse than .500 (41-41) and Oklahoma City’s loss to Golden State on Tuesday dropped the 10th place Thunder to 38-42 on the season —  a loss number neither LA team would hit even if they dropped all of their remaining games.

But neither of these LA teams wants to endure the Play-In Tournament in order to qualify for the postseason. The winner of Wednesday’s games enters the driver’s seat to lock up a top six spot – and a guaranteed playoff berth – before the end of the week.

Remaining schedules following Wednesday’s game

  • Lakers: Friday vs. Phoenix, Sunday vs. Utah
  • Clippers: Saturday vs. Portland, Sunday at Phoenix

The loser of Wednesday’s Clippers-Lakers game remains in the Play-In field, in either seventh or eighth place depending on the outcome of Wednesday’s Pelicans/Grizzlies matchup. A Pelicans loss (dropping them to 40-40) would keep the losing L.A. team (41-39 after loss) in seventh position with a one-game lead.

The same is true with a Pelicans’ win (41-39) and a Lakers’ loss (41-39) as the Lakers own the head-to-head tiebreaker with New Orleans (3-1). However, a Pelicans win (41-39) and a Clippers loss (41-39) would see New Orleans pass the Clippers via their head-to-head tiebreaker (3-0).

Here’s a cheat sheet to keep track of it all:

Lakers Win/Pelicans Win

  • 5 — Lakers (42-38)*
  • 6 — Warriors (42-38)
  • 7 — Pelicans (41-39)*
  • 8 — Clippers (41-39)
  • 9 — Timberwolves (40-40)

*via head-to-head tiebreaker

Lakers Win/Pelicans Lose

  • 5 — Lakers (42-38)*
  • 6 — Warriors (42-38)
  • 7 — Clippers (41-39)
  • 8 — Pelicans (40-40)^
  • 9 — Timberwolves (40-40)

*via head-to-head tiebreaker

^via conference record tiebreaker

Clippers Win/Pelicans Win

  • 5 — Clippers (42-38)#
  • 6 — Warriors (42-38)
  • 7 — Lakers (41-39)*
  • 8 — Pelicans (41-39)
  • 9 — Timberwolves (40-40)

*via head-to-head tiebreaker

#via division record tiebreaker

Clippers Win/Pelicans Lose

  • 5 — Clippers (42-38)^
  • 6 — Warriors (42-38)
  • 7 — Lakers (41-39)*
  • 8 — Pelicans (40-40)^
  • 9 — Timberwolves (40-40)

*via head-to-head tiebreaker

^via conference record tiebreaker

2. Clippers’ 10-game win streak vs. Lakers

The Clippers enter Wednesday’s matchup riding a 10-game win streak over their intra-city rivals and are looking to sweep the season series for the third consecutive season.

Over the course of this streak, the Clippers (115.5) have outscored the Lakers (104.0) by an average of 11.5 points per game, with wins split evenly among games decided by seven points or less, and games decided by 13 points or more, including the two most recent games on Nov. 9, 2022 and Jan. 24, 2023.

Date Matchup Clippers Lakers Diff
Jan. 24, 2023 Clippers @ Lakers 133 115 18
Nov. 9, 2022 Clippers vs. Lakers 114 101 13
Oct. 20, 2022 Clippers @ Lakers 103 97 6
Mar. 3, 2022 Clippers vs. Lakers 132 111 21
Feb. 25, 2022 Clippers @ Lakers 105 102 3
Feb. 3, 2022 Clippers vs. Lakers 111 110 1
Dec. 3, 2021 Clippers @ Lakers 119 115 4
May 6, 2021 Clippers vs. Lakers 118 94 24
Apr. 4, 2021 Clippers vs. Lakers 104 86 18
Dec. 22, 2020 Clippers @ Lakers 116 109 7
Averages 115.5 104 11.5

The Lakers’ last win over the Clippers came on July 30, 2020, during the bubble season in Florida, as LeBron James hit a game-winning layup with under 13 seconds to play. The Lakers would go on to win their 17th NBA title that postseason, while the Clippers were eliminated by Denver in seven games during the conference semifinals, in what proved to be the end of the Doc Rivers era as Tyronn Lue took over the following season.


Of all the games these two L.A.-based teams have played against one another over the years since the Clippers arrived in Los Angeles in 1984, this game on Wednesday holds more meaning, more weight and more implications than ever before.

3. Rest Advantage: Clippers

The Clippers enter Wednesday’s showdown in a much better position in terms of player rest than their Los Angeles counterparts. The Clippers have not played since Saturday, April 1, which gave them three off days before this pivotal matchup. The Clippers are a perfect 3-0 on three days of rest so far this season.

Meanwhile, the Lakers are not only playing on the second night of a back-to-back, they needed overtime, and had to log an additional five minutes, to earn a win over Utah on Tuesday night.

The Lakers are 6-5 on the second night of a back-to-back so far this season, but the key question heading into Wednesday is which players will be available to play and for how long.

Anthony Davis has not played on the second night of a back-to-back since early November, and just logged 42 minutes on Tuesday, which is the most minutes he’s played in any game since returning to the lineup in late January following a 20-game absence due to a foot injury.

LeBron James is also nursing a foot injury that kept him out for a month from late February to late March. LeBron has played in five games since returning on March 26 and the 38 minutes he logged on Tuesday were the most during this stretch. The Lakers are 4-1 since LeBron returned to the lineup.

Perhaps the biggest question about this matchup won’t be known until Wednesday morning when LeBron and Davis wake up and see how their feet are feeling following a heavy workload on Tuesday and a crucial game to prepare for in just a matter of hours.

4. Lakers surging since trade deadline

Anthony Davis played 42 minutes in an overtime win over Utah on Tuesday.

Since the Feb. 9 trade deadline that saw the Lakers overhaul much of its roster and bring in nearly an entirely new supporting cast alongside All-Stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the Lakers have gone 16-7 – tied with New York for the second-best record in the NBA since the deadline, and the top record in the West over that time.

During this stretch of 23 games – roughly 28% of the season – the Lakers own the league’s top defensive rating, holding opponents to 1108 points per 100 possessions. They have coupled that with the 18th-ranked defense (115.4) to post the eighth-best net rating since the trade deadline.

By comparison, during that same time period, the Clippers have ranked 10th in offense (117.2), 20th in defense (117.0) and 18th in net rating (0.2) as they have played their opponents nearly evenly.

5. Westbrook first game vs Lakers since trade

Russell Westbrook shined with 36 points vs. Memphis last week.

As noted above, the Lakers have been more successful since overhauling their roster near the trade deadline to bring in players such as D’Angelo Russell, Jarred Vanderbilt, Malik Beasley and Rui Hachimura. One of the key pieces that left the Lakers as part of those decisions was Russell Westbrook.

After being traded to Utah, Westbrook was bought out of his contract and became a free agent. After clearing waivers, Westbrook decided to stay in his hometown of Los Angeles and just switch locker rooms from Lakers to Clippers.

Wednesday’s game is the first opportunity Westbrook has to face his old team. In his first 18 games with the Clippers, Westbrook has averaged 15.2 points, 7.8 assists and 4.8 rebounds in 30.5 minutes.

His counting stats are very similar to his time with the Lakers this season (15.9 points, 7.5 assists, 6.2 rebounds in 28.7 minutes), but his shooting percentages have made significant improvements. After shooting just 41.7% from the field and 29.6% from 3-point range with the Lakers, Westbrook is shooting 48.4% from the field and 32.3% from 3-point range with the Clippers.

After spending his first 11 seasons in Oklahoma City, Westbrook has played for four teams over the past four seasons: Houston (2019-20), Washington (2020-21), Los Angeles Lakers (2021-2023) and now the LA Clippers (2023-present). Here is a look at how Westbrook fared when facing his former teams for the first time throughout these past four years.

Oct 28, 2019 – HOU vs. OKC W 35 21 12 9 5 56.3 0 19
Jan 26, 2021 – WAS @ HOU L 28 19 11 7 6 41.2 25 -13
Mar 11, 2022 – LAL vs. WAS W 31 5 3 9 1 18.2 0 2

The battle of Los Angeles concludes Wednesday’s 8-game slate, with tipoff at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN.