Lakers Vs. Hawks Preview: LeBron James Returns As L.A. Looks To Win Fourth Straight Game
LeBron James John Collins Lakers Hawks
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Unfortunately for the Atlanta Hawks, they were the team on the other end of LeBron James’ 47-point masterpiece on his 38th birthday. Now, James might need a similar performance if the Los Angeles Lakers’ three-game win streak is to continue.

In addition to Anthony Davis still being out, the Lakers are now down both Austin Reaves and Lonnie Walker IV for at least the next two weeks due to a hamstring strain and knee tendinitis, respectively. Additionally, Troy Brown Jr. is out for the game with a quad strain.

The Lakers are receiving a little bit of help though as they have signed Sterling Brown to a 10-day contract and he will be available for the team against Atlanta. And he could be thrust straight into action with the Lakers in need of some wing depth. Brown is the younger brother of former Laker Shannon Brown and is a career 36.4 percent 3-point shooter.

Needless to say, the Lakers need every member of their roster to be on point. James being back in the lineup after missing Wednesday’s victory over the Miami Heat is certainly a start, but the team also needs contributions elsewhere.

Dennis Schroder is coming off a season-high 32-point performance and his aggression on both ends of the court are necessary. He and Patrick Beverley did an excellent job of making life tough on the Hawks’ All-Star backcourt duo of Trae Young and Dejounte Murray and that effort will be needed once again. Likewise, Beverley has been shooting the ball at a much better rate recently and some timely 3s would be huge.

Thomas Bryant keeping up his excellent stretch of play has been massive as well as his energy is just contagious to the rest of the team. His work on the glass is also crucial as the Lakers outrebounded Atlanta by 14 in their first meeting.

The Lakers also dominated the Hawks in the paint that night, outscoring them by 18, and were also able to get out in transition with 23 fast break points to just five for the Hawks.

It’s impossible to completely shut down Young and Murray, but it is imperative that the Lakers make life difficult for them once again and they should surely be inspired to make up for their performance in the first meeting. The Hawks have also gotten back defensive stalwart DeAndre Hunter, who gives them another body to throw at LeBron.

Ultimately, the Lakers will someone else to step up in a big way. Juan Toscano-Anderson, Kendrick Nunn, Max Christie, and even Brown should all get a chance, it will simply be a matter of who will come through.

Los Angeles Lakers (17-21) vs. Atlanta Hawks (18-20)

7:30 p.m. PT, January 6, 2023
Crypto.com Arena, Los Angeles, CA
TV: Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM ESPN LA

Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:

PG: Patrick Beverley
SG: Dennis Schroder
SF: Juan Toscano-Anderson
PF: LeBron James
C: Thomas Bryant

Key Reserves: Russell Westbrook, Wenyen Gabriel, Max Christie, Kendrick Nunn, Sterling Brown

Projected Hawks Starting Lineup:

PG: Trae Young
SG: Dejounte Murray
SF: DeAndre Hunter
SP: John Collins
C: Onyeka Okongwu

Key Reserves: Bogdan Bogdanovic, A.J. Griffin, Jalen Johnson, Aaron Holiday

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