NBA: Lakers, Clippers still the teams to beat in the west – Reuters

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The Hollywood star power fueling the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers makes them the favorites to win the Western Conference and hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy when the novel coronavirus-hit NBA season crowns its champion in Orlando, analysts said.

FILE PHOTO: Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry kisses the Larry O’Brien NBA Championship Trophy during Toronto Raptors victory parade celebration in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, June 17, 2019. REUTERS/Moe Doiron/File Photo

LeBron James’ first place Lakers held a 5.5 game lead over Kawhi Leonard’s Clippers when the season was brought to an abrupt halt on March 11 due to the pandemic.

Play will resume on Thursday with 22 teams that were in striking distance of the playoffs battling it out until one team captures the title in front of spectator-free stands at the Walt Disney World Resort in October.

The Lakers and Clippers will face off in prime time on Thursday and all eyes will be on James, Leonard and their formidable supporting casts.

“We have strong favorites in the west with the Lakers