In an ideal world, a matchup between the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets would be a star-studded affair, one with a compelling storyline that has two squads at the absolute height of their powers competing in a potential Finals preview. The irresistible duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis taking on the offensive juggernaut of the Nets led by James Harden, Kevin Durant, and Kyrie Irving would be a heavyweight battle that would have everyone here in the Philippines brewing their coffee early in order not to miss any of the action.
Unfortunately, this upcoming Lakers-Nets matchup will be played under different circumstances. The Lakers, currently in sixth place, are fighting to stay afloat in the Western Conference, and avoid falling into the Play-in Tournament bracket. And a win over the Eastern Conference-leading Nets will help stop the free-fall.
It’s been a rough stretch to say the least for the reigning defending champions. With both Davis and James sidelined, the Lakers have floundered in their attempt to stay above water. They’ve looked to fill in the gaps by adding Andre Drummond. His usual raw numbers so far have looked good, but unfortunately it hasn’t translated yet into consistent winning.
The Lakers made another move recently to shore up their offense, picking up Ben McLemore from waivers after he was released from the Houston Rockets. Since James exited the lineup with a high-degree ankle sprain, the Lakers have averaged a league-worst 101.4 points per game. So while their defense has still been consistent, they’ve been unable to respond on the other end, and have had great difficulty finding ways to manufacture offense.
That’s the complete opposite for the Nets, who have been rolling the entire season. The league’s highest scoring team (119.0 points per contest) has a ridiculous crop of riches on the offensive end, allowing the team to still keep their heads above water even though they’ve rarely had a completely healthy lineup all season.
In the Nets’ previous contest against the New Orleans Pelicans. James Harden was unable to play with a hamstring injury. So who stepped up in his place? None other than Kevin Durant, who returned to play his first game since February 13. Durant made all five of his field-goal attempts to help the Nets cruise past the Pelicans, 139-111. The Nets make it look so easy at times, and when you’ve got the Slim Reaper rolling, sometimes it really is.
Can the champs halt the red-hot Nets and pick up a statement win on the road? Find out tomorrow, live on TV5 at 8:30 AM.