The Los Angeles Lakers taking on the Brooklyn Nets on Christmas Day was supposed to be one of the marquee matchups of the 2021-22 NBA season. The All-Star trio of LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook facing another trio of Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving could have led to an all-time regular-season game.
Instead, the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak affecting numerous teams — including the Nets and Lakers — will be the biggest storyline. At this point, it’s unknown who will and won’t be available, but a significant number of players will likely be watching the game from isolation.
James, Westbrook and Harden are all expected to play, which is a nice consolation, but neither team will have anything close to a full complement of players. For James, that’s taken some of the wind out of what could have been another instant classic.
“Well it’s a game that both teams want to win no matter the circumstances,” James said. “Is it gonna be one of the premier games that I’m accustomed to playing in on Christmas? No.
“So many guys are out, this whole protocol thing has gotten the worst out of a lot of teams in our league right now so it won’t be as star-studded as I’ve been in. I think I played in probably the best Christmas Day game ever, us vs. Golden State in Cleveland was a monster game and I’ve been here for a few games at Staples as well vs. Kobe and those Laker teams. But it’s always exciting and an honor to be able to play on Christmas, for sure.”
The Nets have started to get some guys back after having multiple games postponed. However, the Lakers are still waiting on the statuses of Trevor Ariza, Malik Monk, Kent Bazemore, Austin Reaves and Avery Bradley, any of whom could potentially be cleared to play. Davis and Kendrick Nunn are out already due to injury.
If the Lakers get a couple of those players back, perhaps an interesting game could be salvaged. But as it has been for the last four games, it’s going to be very difficult to come to any conclusions about either team the way things look right now.
James has played in some of the best Christmas games of this generation, but it’s hard to see this year’s edition living up to that hype.
Lakers pay tribute to Staples Center with name change underway
When the Lakers face the Nets on Christmas Day, they will officially be playing at Crypto.com Arena, their first game with the new sponsor. On Thursday, the Lakers spent some time to look back on the iconic moments of Staples Center, celebrating the 22 years — including six championships — of history with that name.
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