There’s a bit of a mood around the Clippers right now, I think. Is that fair to say? In the common parlance, this “mood” is perhaps not good or bad, but it does exist — as ineffable as it may be to describe. This other team from Los Angeles, fresh off adding both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, is currently 17-7, good for second place in the bloodthirsty West. They’ve got talent, but are just hanging on.
The Clips also recently came off a shellacking at the hands of the East-leading Bucks, the kind of team they’re likely going to have to solve if their championship aspirations are for real. Now, there is a team that has already unlocked a game plan to beat the Bucks, and most any other team in the league. That team is, of course, the defending champion Toronto Raptors. That’s the team Kawhi left, based in the city he will visit this Wednesday for the first time since hoisting the Larry O’B trophy.
And look at that, there’s that mood again:
To say the Toronto crowd will be up for a Wednesday night game against the Clippers is perhaps an understatement. The hope, quite honestly, is for the crowd to produce an outpouring of cheering support for the returning Kawhi, the likes of which he’s never heard elsewhere before — and will never hear again. In truth: they won’t love you like Toronto loves you, Kawhi.
Setting that aside though, this Raptors vs. Clippers game contains other factors. In their previous showdown in L.A., the Raptors put up a hell of a fight, but down both Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka, the Clips proved to be too much down the stretch. Now Toronto is trying to reintegrate its core, and figure out just how to fit all of its pieces together. The Clippers, meanwhile, didn’t have Paul George the last time these two teams played, and as any Raptors fan knows, that’s kind of a big deal.
Both the Raptors and Clippers are in the thick of things in their respective conferences — Toronto is in fifth thanks to a three-game losing streak, the Clips have jumped to second, just barely. While the former has exceeded expectations, thanks to new alpha Pascal Siakam and a ridiculous team defense, the latter is perhaps a step behind where most thought they’d be at this point in the season. The stakes for a game like this — aside from the emotions attached to Kawhi’s return — come to the fore in semi-unexpected ways. Both teams do indeed have something to prove, to themselves and to the league at large.
But as with most things that involve Kawhi, it all points back to, well, Kawhi. When he’s on the court, the game tends to revolve around him (assuming he is indeed on the court come Wednesday); and whenever he visits Toronto, it will definitely be all about him. How could that not be the case? It’s why this is no ordinary Raptors game, and to be honest, it shouldn’t be just one more game for Kawhi either. On that latter point, I’ll just add: it’s a mood.
Now here are the game details are below — and here’s a link to where you can buy tickets.
Where: Scotiabank Arena, Toronto
When: Wednesday, December 11th at 7:00pm EST
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