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Clippers owner Steve Ballmer welcomes fans to a preseason game between his team and the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday night in Seattle. (AP Photo/ John Froschauer)
Clippers owner Steve Ballmer welcomes fans to a preseason game between his team and the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday night in Seattle. (AP Photo/ John Froschauer)
Kevin Modesti, Los Angeles Daily ɫ̳
UPDATED:

Editor’s note: This is the Thursday, Oct. 20 edition of the “Game Day with Kevin Modesti” newsletter. To receive the newsletter in your inbox, sign up here.


Good morning. For a team that few used to care about, the Clippers are inspiring some heated debate as they open their season tonight.

In other Southern California sports news:

• LAFC and the Galaxy clash tonight in the quarterfinal round of the MLS Cup playoffs, with LAFC trying to as recent top-seeded teams.

• Rams writer Gilbert Manzano the potential of trading for Christian McCaffrey and/or other saviors.

• The Dodgers’ winter include Trea Turner, Justin Turner and Cody Bellinger, and not Craig Kimbrel.

• The Angels’ this offseason are in their coaching staff.

• And if you think UCLA is playing smart football, it might have something to do with the fact the roster includes .

The Clippers tip off against the Lakers at Crypto.com Arena in what is nominally a Lakers home game.

The Lakers , LeBron James is wasting no time , and columnist Jim Alexander says it feels like they’re working on .

Into the Lakers’ old role as L.A.’s NBA championship hope step the Clippers, who have Kawhi Leonard and Paul George both for the first time in 16 months and their stars .

On the TNT studio show before the national telecast of the Lakers-Golden State Warriors game on Tuesday night, the panel made predictions for the new season, and two of the former NBA stars were high on the Clippers.

Two of the three.

“If not the Golden State Warriors coming out of the West, then who?” host Ernie Johnson asked.

“I’ve got the Los Angeles Clippers coming out of the West. That’s my favorite, and I’m sticking to it,” Charles Barkley said.

“I would agree with Chuck. The only other team …,” Kenny Smith began.

“You both say that every year. Stop,” Shaquille O’Neal interrupted. “They’re (the Clippers) not going to do nothing, like they always do.”

The conversation devolved into a squabble over whether Barkley and Smith really did pick the Clippers the past two seasons, which they clearly didn’t because nobody picked the Clippers a year ago with Leonard injured.

Shaq’s view that the Clippers “always” flop has a germ of truth. They’ve never gone to the NBA Finals, even in the eight seasons under Steve Ballmer’s successful ownership. And they’ve finished under their in 12 of the past 15 seasons.

But that was then, and this is a deeper Clippers team since the acquisitions of John Wall and others, playing in a league without dominant franchises standing in their way.

In Las Vegas, the Clippers have the second-lowest odds to win the Western Conference (, close behind the Warriors) and the fourth-lowest (+662) to win the NBA title, and a win-total line (52½) as high as anyone except the Celtics.

Las Vegas Review-Journal sports betting writer Todd Dewey quoted Westgate SuperBook NBA oddsmaker Jeff Sherman saying his power ratings say the Clippers should be the .

“Both of their star players (Leonard and George) were out last year due to injury and have had extensive time to recover,” Sherman said. “And they have extraordinary depth on that team. They can go 10 to 12 deep. Their second unit can be better than other teams’ first unit.”

Expectations are properly high for the Clippers this season.

The Clippers know a lot can go wrong between now and trying to win the Western Conference and NBA finals in June.

But they’ve become a team people are talking about and for all the right reasons. As far as that goes, they’ve already won.

TODAY

The Lakers “host” the Clippers at Crypto.com Arena (7 p.m., TNT). The Clippers have won the past seven games between the L.A. teams.

• LAFC hosts the Galaxy at Banc of California Stadium (7 p.m., FS1) in a playoff edition of the “El Trafico” rivalry.

The Kings try to extend their three-game when they play the unbeaten Penguins in Pittsburgh (4 p.m., BSW).

The Ducks try to end their three-game when they take on the high-scoring Bruins in Boston (4 p.m., BSSC).

• USC’s 15th-ranked women’s soccer team visits Utah (5 p.m., Pac12N).

• UCLA’s men’s soccer team, now out of the Top 25, hosts Cal (7 p.m., Pac12N).

• UCLA’s top-ranked men’s water polo team meets No. 11 UC Santa Barbara (4 p.m., Pac12LA).

NEXT QUESTION

If they stay healthy, are the Clippers the best team in the NBA? Respond by email to KModesti@scng.com or on Twitter (.

280 CHARACTERS

– Jim Alexander () during the Yankees-Astros playoff series opener last night. in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series between L.A. nemeses.

1,000 WORDS

Hold on: The San Diego Padres’ Manny Machado keeps his hand on second base after sliding past the bag on a first-inning double Wednesday afternoon, giving Phillies second baseman Jean Segura no chance to make a tag. to even the best-of-seven National League Championship Series at 1-1. The photo is by The Associated Press’ Gregory Bull.

TALK TO ME

Thanks for reading the newsletter. Send suggestions, comments and questions by email KModesti@scng.com and Twitter ).


Editor’s note: Thanks for reading the “Game Day with Kevin Modesti” newsletter. To receive the newsletter in your inbox, sign up here.


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