The Los Angeles Lakers are on their first road trip of the season which, as everything else with this year, will be unlike any other.
L.A. is traveling to Texas to play back-to-back games against the San Antonio Spurs before heading to Tennessee for a couple of clashes with the Memphis Grizzlies. The NBA purposefully scheduled many back-to-back matchups for teams in order to cut down on travel during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The Lakers are set to play competitive road games for the first since March. L.A. started the 2020-21 season with four home meetings while the end of the previous campaign memorably took place in the Orlando bubble.
“It’s going to be different. It’s going to be very challenging just to hit the road, which we haven’t done very much,” LeBron James said.
The four-time NBA champion emphasized the risks associated with travel during the pandemic, adding L.A. needed to take extra care during the trip to avoid potential quarantine that could cause players to miss future games.
“Going down to Texas and then heading to Tennessee, we’ll see what the rules and regulations in certain counties compared to ours,” he said. “But more importantly, just trying to stay safe, stay healthy so we can be available for the games and go out and play Laker basketball.”
The Lakers will be back in Staples Center on Jan. 7, when they host the Spurs. The day after, L.A. takes on the Chicago Bulls before returning to Texas for back-to-back games against the Houston Rockets.
It could be the first time the Lakers play in front of fans this season as the Rockets are one of the few teams planning to allow spectators in the stands at a 25% capacity.
NBA aiming to move away from virtual fans in 2020-21
Due to the pandemic, L.A. and the majority of the teams opted against opening their arenas to the public at the beginning of the 2020-21 season. And while they are awaiting the return of fans, the NBA shared with the franchises the technology it used to add a home arena atmosphere in the Orlando bubble.
However, league officials say their priority is to move away from virtual fan participation and bring spectators back in the stands this season.
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