The Los Angeles Lakers take on the Los Angeles Clippers this weekend with both teams sitting in 8th and 9th, desperate to avoid the recently introduced play-in tournament and both missing star players.

The LA rivalry has had its false dawns, the biggest one coming in 2020 when the Clippers collapsed and saw their 3-1 lead fall against the Denver Nuggets that would have set up a monstrous Western Conference Finals in the Orlando bubble.

In light of the fixture, we take a look back at 5 of the biggest NBA rivalries.

  1. Los Angeles Lakers vs Detroit Pistons

These two played each other in back-to-back finals in 1988 and 1989 with the Lakers winning a seven-game series the first year before the Pistons took their revenge 12 months later with a convincing 4-0 sweep.

In 2004, the Lakers went into the season with one goal in mind, reclaiming their NBA title, but were denied by the Pistons with point guard Chauncey Billups picking up the Finals MVP award.


4. Cleveland Cavaliers vs Golden State Warriors

Their rivalry may only have started in 2015 but the Cavaliers and the Warriors did go on to face each other four times in a row from 2015 to 2018.

Golden State came out on top in three of those occasions winning 4-2 in 2015, 4-1 in 2017 and 4-0 in 2018. But their rivalry will arguably be remembered for the 2016 finals when the Cavs became the first team to come back from 3-1 in the Finals, LeBron James claimed his third ring in dramatic fashion.


3. Detroit Pistons vs Indiana Pacers

‘Malice at the Palace’ is remembered and spoken about to this day and even had a Netflix documentary about the night released in 2021.

What was about to be a blowout victory for the Pacers things turned sour after an altercation on the court between Ben Wallace and Ron Artest led to players, fans and security losing control.

There were heavy fines induced, including $11 million in player salaries.


  1. Chicago Bulls vs Detroit Pistons

Arguably the most heated rivalry of the late ’80s and ’90s.

The Piston ‘bad boys’ were known for their aggressive and physical style of play.

Their tactics against the Bulls included the ‘Jordan Rules’ for a young Michael Jordan who received plenty of flying elbows.

The Pistons dominated in the early years before the younger Bulls finally broke through in 1991 sweeping their rivals 4-0 in Eastern Conference Finals.


  1. Los Angeles Lakers vs Boston Celtics

No surprise here.

The Lakers and the Celtics are one of the most historic rivalries in sport.

Starting back in the ’50s, the teams have met each other 12 times in the finals.

If you include the Minneapolis Lakers (pre-Los Angeles) both teams have won the NBA Championship 17 times.

Pretty impressive considering the closest team to both of them are the Warriors and Bulls who are tied on six.


(Featured Image under Creative Commons Licence by raymondclarkeimages)

(Other images from GettyImages)