Although Anthony Davis and Kevin Durant won’t be in uniform, and Kyrie Irving may miss as well, there will still be plenty of hype surrounding the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets matchup on Thursday.
LeBron James and Lakers role players at minimum will have to battle against Harden and his Nets supporting cast. Irving, who didn’t play Tuesday, is considered probable.
Even at less than full strength, this figures to be one of the better games of the regular season for the Lakers. Their last potential NBA Final previews all came as a part of a seven-game road trip, where they went a combined 2-1 against the Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics.
If James can lead the team to a victory on Thursday, they can feel even better about their ability to compete with the elite teams in the east. “Well it’s always exciting for me to go against some of the best guys in the game, and they’ve got three of them,” James said.
“They’ve got three of the best guys in the game. You definitely love to be full against a team like that and see how you match up against some of the best teams in the league. Obviously we won’t be full on Thursday, but other than that, I love going out there and being on the floor with some of the best to play this game.”
Lakers wing defenders — Dennis Schroder, Alex Caruso, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Wesley Matthews, Kyle Kuzma, Talen Horton-Tucker and James — will all have their work cut out for them against Harden and likely Irving as well.
The Nets have little to no flaws offensively, as their three stars do plenty of heavy lifting while role players like Landry Shamet, Joe Harris and Jeff Green clean up any potential mistakes.
L.A. will need to attack the flaws the Nets do have, which almost all occur on the defensive end. Much like a majority of Nets games, Thursday night could very well become a shootout.
James preaches collective effort with Davis sidelined
Against a team with as much firepower as the Nets, one person will not be able to step in and become Davis. James knows this, which is why he preached a team effort to replace the elite big man. “Just next man up and we’re not expecting one person to try to pick up A.D.’s productivity,” James said.
“Nobody is going to be able to do that because he brings too much to the table, but we all can collectively do more. That’s our job, to come out and do more.
“The four guys we brought in during the offseason, they all did more tonight. D.S., Trezz, Wes and Marc picked up their play, and we needed that from every last one of them. We’re going to need that while A.D. is out.”
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