After a brutal 2-10 start that had the Los Angeles Lakers at the very bottom of the NBA standings, things have somewhat stabilized. The Lakers have won nine of their last 14 games to climb to within two games of the final play-in spot in the Western Conference, giving fans something to pull for each night.
Much of that success is due to Anthony Davis suddenly morphing back into the MVP-caliber talent many thought he was destined for after winning a title in his first year with the Lakers. So despite the team being far from championship favorites, there are still several impactful games to play this season.
Here’s a pick of the five most exciting matchups for Lakers fans to look out for.
Philadelphia 76ers, January 15, 2023
The Philadelphia 76ers entered the season with genuine championship aspirations but have been slowed by injuries thus far this season. However, injuries didn’t slow them in a 133-122 overtime win against Los Angeles on December 9th.
Joel Embiid, Tyrese Maxey, James Harden, and Tobias Harris are all game-changers when they get going. Anthony Davis will have his work cut out with Embiid in the paint. The Lakers will likely enter this game as a home underdog, but they have the potential to pull off an upset in this re-match.
Brooklyn Nets, January 30, 2023
Who knows what might be going on with the Nets by the time 2023 comes around, but one thing is for certain: this will be heavily entertaining.
After a slow start, Brooklyn has found its legs. The matchup between LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Russell Westbrook, taking on Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Ben Simmons, is always intriguing.
This game probably won’t have had playoff implications for Brooklyn, but the Lakers will likely be fighting for wins, and a season sweep over Brooklyn would be a terrific way to close the month.
Milwaukee Bucks, February 9, 2023
Milwaukee is over a year removed from their championship season but has the talent and the drive to contend this season. Giannis Antetokounmpo is arguably the best player in the league, making his matchup with LeBron James fascinating. Khris Middleton will be a fun matchup to watch on the wings for the Lakers to match, and Jrue Holiday taking on Westbrook will be a joyful point guard battle.
The Lakers are coming off their biggest win of the season, a 133-129 win in Milwaukee on December 2nd. Look for the Bucks to try and return the favor in Los Angeles in the second of the two meetings between the teams this season.
Phoenix Suns, March 22, 2023
Phoenix has gotten the better of Los Angeles in the last two seasons, making them one of the bigger rivals of late. The teams last met in November with the Suns coming out on top. They play again on December 19th and then won’t see each other until March 22 in Los Angeles when games start to count just a little bit more.
If you count a pre-season game at the T-Mobile arena in Las Vegas, the Suns have won the last 5 matchups between the teams. But just like playing casino games, the odds tend to even out in the long run. The Lakers will be hoping to notch a win here heading into the last two weeks of the season.
Chicago Bulls, March 26, 2023
The Chicago Bulls will be traveling to face the Lakers at Crypto.com Arena shortly before the playoffs kick-off. This will likely be crunch time for Los Angeles, and wins at home will be critical.
Chicago headed into this season in the wake of a 46-36 campaign that led many to believe they could contend in 2022, but they’ve struggled thus far and may be fighting for their playoff lives, making this a must-win for both large market teams.