Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry got to celebrate the NBA title last year with the Golden State Warriors. Will they repeat? Why wouldn’t Cleveland and LeBron James be favored? The NBA season begins Tuesday with Golden State’s banner-raising ceremony; the Lakers and Clippers open on Wednesday. (Getty Images)
THIS WEEK’S BEST BET:
70th NBA REGULAR-SEASON OPENERS:
LAKERS vs. MINNESOTA
Details/TV: At Staples Center, Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., TWC SportsNet
CLIPPERS at SACRAMENTO
Details/TV: Wednesday at 7 p.m., Prime Ticket:
Accept this as a wild prediction: The Clippers will make the playoffs, as they have the last four seasons. They could, perhaps, make it to the Western Conference finals. For the first time. The Lakers, meanwhile, will miss the playoffs, as they have the last two seasons (three, if you want to count being swept in four by San Antonio in 2012-13). They could, perhaps, make it to the lottery again in the summer of 2016.
We can’t take sole credit for this information. In the NBA preview editions of Sports Illustrated (Clippers are No. 3 overall; Lakers are No. 20) and ESPN The Magazine (Clippers are No. 4 overall; Lakers are No. 21), the people who sweated over the details came to pretty much the same conclusion.
So here is the first of 82 games to make sure all happens as planned.
Kobe Bryant, 37, returns for the Lakers. For how long, that’s why we’ll stick around to watch.
“Don’t be surprised if Kobe wins the comeback player of the year,” says Reggie Miller, paid to talk these days for TNT. “(Coach) Bryon Scott is going to have to play a masterfully hand of poker with Kobe.”
Paul Pierce, 38, is a new face on the Clippers. For how long, we’ll also watch.
“I love the Paul Pierce pickup,” adds Miller. “I think what was missing from that team was a closer. Throughout his career, Pierce has been a closer. Come the fourth quarter, come crunch time, you have to have a closer. He’s going to add that mix to the Clippers.”
The season actually begins Tuesday, with two of the three games on TNT — Cleveland-Chicago (5 p.m.) and New Orleans-Golden State (7:30 p.m.). The other 28 teams must share the Wednesday spotlight. The Wolves, who’ve drawn the Lakers on opening night, are still digesting the news about the passing of head coach Flip Saunders died over the weekend after a battle with cancer. Sam Mitchell will coach the team, which has 39-year-old Kevin Garnett back on its roster and two former UCLA one-and-done players coming off the bench — 20-year-old Zach LaVine and 22-year-old Shabazz Muhammad.
For the Clippers, their first foe, Sacramento, is trying to see if coach George Karl can get on the same page with center DeMarcus Cousins, Rudy Gay and new point guard Rajon Rondo.
The rest of the week: The Lakers are at Sacramento (Friday, 7 p.m., TWC SportsNet) and home against Dallas (Sunday, 6:30 p.m., TWC SportsNet). The Clippers are home against Dallas (Thursday, 7:30 p.m., TNT) and Sacramento (Saturday, 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket).
ALSO THIS WEEK:
MLB: 111th WORLD SERIES
N.Y. METS vs. KANSAS CITY
Details/TV: Game 1 at Kansas City, Tuesday at 5 p.m., Channel 11:
In the bottom of the seventh inning of Friday’s ALCS Game 6, as the Royals held a 3-1 lead over the Blue Jays as well as a three-games-to-two advantage, a graphic popped up on the TV screen promoting Fox’s World Series coverage — between the Mets and the Royals. Might want to wait until the game was officially over, guys. Although the Royals did pull out a one-run win and earn the right to return to the World Series, it was hardly preordained. Just like the Mets winning the National League kind of came out of left field. en the Royals did eventually win, advancing to the championship round for the second year in a row, and accepting home-field advantage against a Mets roster that hasn’t figured out how to lose at this point.
Point of fact: The tentative 2016 MLB schedule came out last month, and on Opening Day, the Royals are supposed to play host to … the Mets, who may just happen to be present for a championship banner raising ceremony. How quaint.
The series continues: Game 2 is at Kansas City on Wednesday; Games 3, 4 and 5 are in New York on Friday, Saturday and, if necessary, Sunday. If Game 7 is necessary, it will be Wednesday, Nov. 4.
ALSO THIS WEEK:
32nd BREEDERS’ CUP
Details/TV: At Lexington, Ky., Friday and Saturday, NBC and NBCSN:
The Super Bowl of horse racing makes its first trip to Keeneland (after three years at Santa Anita), and with that comes the first time there will be a Triple Crown winner in its presence. American Pharoah will be the marquee name for Saturday’s $5 million 1 ¼-mile Classic on Halloween. But even with 8-5 early odds by the Daily Racing Form, there’s the scary thought – more than one competitors very capable of beating him. Keen Ice (15-1 early odds) did it in late August at the Travers. And there’s 5-year-old Beholder (3-1), who has already won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies and the Distaff, trying to be the first three-time winner by challenging the boys after an historic victory last summer at Del Mar’s Pacific Classic as well as winning the Zenyatta Stakes the last three years at Santa Anita. Honor Code (6-1), Tonalist (8-1) and Santa Anita Gold Cup winner Hard Aces (30-1) are also in the field. Channel 4 has the Classic set for 2:35 p.m. PT, the last of 11 races on Saturday, with the first four on Friday. Need another horse to watch? Kobe’s Back, named after the Lakers’ star, is entered in the Sprint. With early odds of 20-1.
THE REST OF THE WEEK:
UCLA and USC end up playing noon college football games on Saturday — the Trojans are at Cal (Channel 11), with the Bruins taking on Colorado at the Rose Bowl (Pac-12 Network) … The Kings also get off with a Halloween day game (vs. Nashville, 1 p.m., Staples Center) … The defending MLS champion Galaxy need to go to Seattle for an elimination game to advance to the semifinals of the playoffs (Wednesday, 7 p.m., UniMas) … The NFL gets a matchup of 6-0 Green Bay at 6-0 Denver on Sunday night (5:30 p.m., Channel 4) … Meb Keflezighi is in the field for the New York City Marathon (Sunday, 6 a.m., ESPN2) … The PGA Champions Tour goes to Newport Beach again (Friday-Sunday) … More to read at this link …