The match between the Brooklyn Nets and the Los Angeles Lakers might show us how the NBA Finals will look like in a few months. However, with Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Anthony Davis injured, both teams will be playing without some key stars in their lineup.
KD has been in and out of games in accordance with the league’s health and safety protocols, along with a left hamstring sprain that made him unavailable against the Sacramento Kings and Phoenix Suns. Irving was also out against the Suns due to stiffness in his lower back and still unsure if he’ll be ready to play against the Lakers.
Fortunately for the Nets, James Harden took charge and got all the other guys involved in their previous game. Joe Harris, Jeff Green, and Tyler Johnson had a terrific scoring night combining for 57 points among them. Harden posted another double-double with 38 points and 11 assists.
The Nets have also shown signs of improvement on the defensive end. Head coach Steve Nash attributed their performance to more time together on the court and in practice. However, they are going up against another powerhouse that will put these improvements to the test.
The Lakers will miss Anthony Davis (sore achilles) but the team has no shortage of talent who can contribute. Dennis Schroder, who has been playing beyond his averages after AD was pulled out, scored 24 points against the Minnesota Timberwolves, along with three assists and four steals. Montrezl Harrell was also spectacular off the bench with 17 points and six rebounds. With these two guys stepping up, their production took the pressure off LeBron James who still gave the Lakers a double-double of 30 points and 13 rebounds.
Both teams will need an all-around, balanced performance if they want to come home with a crucial win. Since both the Nets and the Lakers are playing with handicaps, the battle between the guys off the bench may be the narrative of the game. While they still have one superstar each, LeBron or Harden going solo will not secure a victory over the other.
The Nets cannot expect to win with another shootout especially with a top defensive like the Lakers. Guys like DeAndre Jordan and Harris need to be more productive on both ends of the court for the Nets to have a chance. On the other hand, the Lakers cannot rely solely on James to get them going. The team needs a little more involvement and consistency from guys like Kyle Kuzma to give Los Angeles options other than their potential MVP candidate.
Lucky for the fans, you can catch this exciting matchup Thursday at 11:00 AM on One Sports.