The Los Angeles Clippers' acquisitions of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George gave LA's other franchise what arguably is the NBA's most formidable duo.
It turns out the Clippers are quite alright with just one of them in the lineup.
Without George, who is out for about a month after undergoing offseason shoulder surgery, the Clippers beat the cross-town rival Lakers 112-102 on the first night of the season Wednesday. The Clippers' win followed a playbook the Warriors know all too well after their NBA Finals loss in June, and it's one they'll surely see again Thursday night at Chase Center in Golden State's season opener.
Leonard led the Clippers with 30 points Tuesday night, and he was the only Clips starter to score in double figures. The reigning NBA Finals MVP was aided by four double-digit scorers off the Clippers bench, though, as Lou Williams (21 points), Maurice Harkless (17), JaMychal Green (12) and Maurice Harkless (10) all shot at least 50 percent from the field.
Sound familiar? It should, as the Clippers looked a lot like the Toronto Raptors did in a six-game NBA Finals win over the Warriors.
Leonard led the way in June, but he got a lot of help from his former teammates. Five other Raptors scored at least 10 points per game in The Finals, including bench players Fred VanVleet (14.0 points per game) and Serge Ibaka (11.3). Toronto's depth out-shined Golden State, as only the Warriors' original big three of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green scored in double figures during The Finals.
The Warriors were without Kevin Durant for all but 12 minutes of The Finals and lacked Thompson down the stretch in Game 6. Golden State will miss both of them Thursday, given Durant's offseason departure for the Brooklyn Nets and Thompson's continued recovery from a torn ACL. D'Angelo Russell was brought in to fill the void, but the Warriors' season opener Thursday could look a lot like the end of their last one four months ago.
Down a star, the Warriors will have to stop Leonard and a very deep supporting cast. He will wear red, white and blue in San Francisco rather than red and black in Oakland, but in the absence of George, Leonard's early Clippers tenure is going to give the Warriors plenty of déjà vu.