With a shortened offseason and condensed training camp and preseason periods, the 2020-21 campaign is underway and set for a marquee day of games on Christmas Day. The Los Angeles Lakers faced the L.A. Clippers on Opening Night and now get to see the Dallas Mavericks.
The Lakers struggled to contain Paul George in the third quarter of their loss to the Clippers, and next up is Luka Doncic. He had 32 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists in the Mavericks’ season opener but that wasn’t enough in a loss to the Phoenix Suns.
The early-season matchup between the Lakers and Mavericks is reminiscent of their meeting last year. It was just the Lakers’ fifth game of the season and they won an overtime thriller on the road that was part of 17 victories in a stretch of 18 games.
While some believed the NBA would pit the Lakers against the Clippers or in an NBA Finals rematch with the Miami Heat, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is looking forward to the primetime matchup at Staples Center, per Dwain Price of Mavs.com:
#Mavs owner Mark Cuban on playing LeBron James and the world champion LA Lakers on Christmas: "It's exciting! It's a big game playing the champs, and when Luka and LBJ match up it's always something special. I'm super excited to get back into it." @dallasmavs @mcuban @NBA
— Dwain Price (@DwainPrice) December 2, 2020
L.A. won three of four meetings with Dallas last season, but Doncic was at his best each time. He averaged 25.5 points per game against the Lakers, with his best work coming in the first meeting between the two teams.
Doncic scored 31 while James had 39, and the Mavericks could have handed the Lakers their second loss of the season if not for a buzzer-beater 3-pointer by Danny Green to send the game to overtime.
This year, with the Mavericks and Lakers both making roster improvements, and Doncic just another year older and most likely better, the Christmas meeting could truly be one for the ages.
LeBron playing through mild ankle sprain on Christmas Day
James and the Lakers have been open about embracing load management early into the season, but that will not come Christmas Day. That’s despite James rolling his left ankle and suffering a mild sprain in the season opener.
“I’ll be ready to go,” he said Thursday. “I’ve never missed a Christmas Day game and I don’t plan on missing on [Friday].”
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