Kurt Helin and Corey Robinson break down the NBA opening night schedule between the Lakers-Clippers and Warriors-Nets and detail what to look out for in the anticipated matchups.
COREY ROBINSON: The NBA released its schedule for opening night. We got a double header, Warriors-Nets, Lakers-Clippers. Kurt, what are you looking for?
KURT HELIN: First off, my first thought when I saw that was, how hard is the NBA trolling the Clippers? Like, hey, first we want you to watch LeBron James and that team across the hall get their rings. By the way, on Christmas, go see Denver. [CHUCKLES] Go see that Cleveland does not-- you know, like, hey, here's all your worst nightmares, like, right out of the gate, man. But it's not bad--
COREY ROBINSON: Yeah, they'll see what they're made of in that first three days, right?
KURT HELIN: Exactly. And Ty Lue, welcome back to coaching. But it's going to be interesting. I like the idea of seeing-- oh, I think we're all curious about Kevin Durant. So I'm just excited to see opening night, what does Kevin Durant look like? What do we-- when we get there, it's kind of an interesting opening game. And you know, obviously star power on the other side too, with Steph Curry and the Warriors. And then that's it. Look, this was a series-- the Laker-Clippers was the series we all wanted to see last year. We didn't get it. And so it's not exactly revenge, but Clippers go out and spoil ring night, they can feel at least a sense of momentum going forward.
COREY ROBINSON: Yeah, absolutely. When I look at the Lakers, they're trying to repeat. I mean, it's very clear. They put all their chips in, trying to build a sustainable competitive program over time. And one of the biggest obstacles is in their same hometown, in the same arena. It's the Clippers, who are on a different kind of mindset. You have the Lakers with their superstars for a long period of time, the next two to five years. The Clippers are like, we gotta win this year. This is it for us. And so it's going to be an interesting test right off the bat and saying, hey, you gotta watch out for us. We're no longer the little brothers anymore. And I think Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are going to have a lot to say on opening night.
KURT HELIN: Look, you hit the nail on the head with the Clippers. Those guys could both be-- George and Leonard are free agents, can be free agents, opt out after the season, will, and get paid one way or another. There's pressure to kind of make this thing work or figure out what, you know-- they don't want to lose those guys for nothing. It'll be really interesting. Puts a lot of pressure on Ty Lue, again, as he walks in the door.
And for the Lakers, you know, I want to see-- or I should say, with the Clippers, I want to see if they can fix the chemistry issues that we saw last year. And part of that's Ty Lue. But frankly, part of that's kind of just self-awareness from Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. You've been-- look, who's the leader in the locker room? It's not the coach necessarily. It's usually your best player, right, or your quarterback on your football team. Somebody's got to set the tone. And if Kawhi Leonard and Paul George weren't setting the tone, there's got to be some self-awareness on their part to change that tone and get everybody pulling the rope the same way.
COREY ROBINSON: And you look at Montrezl Harrell, he looked like one of those guys who probably brought the team together, was one of those heart and soul of the team kind of guys. He's gone.
KURT HELIN: Yeah. Across the hall, to those very Lakers.
COREY ROBINSON: Yeah. Exactly. So when you look at the Clippers' locker room, the question is, who is the heart and soul of that team? And it's not evident, really, when you look at the roster.
KURT HELIN: My guess would have been Pat Beverly's kind of the emotional leader of that team now. But ultimately, if Kawhi Leonard is living in San Diego, showing up late for planes, doing some of the stuff that was talked-- been talked about, like I don't know-- if they don't change, if there's not some self-awareness and change internally in that locker room, I'm not sure anything ultimately changes that much on the court.
COREY ROBINSON: Well, the good news is that it's, you know, it's a long season. So it's not-- the championship isn't won on opening night. But we'll get a good idea of who's playing for it.