The Big Game Preview: Brooklyn Nets @ Los Angeles Lakers
By Jamie Griffith
Where: Staples Centre; Los Angeles
When: Sunday, 1:30 AM (GMT)
Records: Lakers (32-19) – Nets (36-16)
Sunday will see the defending NBA champions, the Los Angeles Lakers, face off against the side many believe to be the biggest threat to the Lakers’ title defence – the Brooklyn Nets.
Last time the two met, it was the Nets who ran out 109-98 victors, with James Harden’s 23 points and 11 assists vital in securing the result for his side back in February.
As the sides meet for the last time this year, in the regular season at least, the Nets will be looking to make a serious statement about their championship credentials.
At the time of writing, the Brooklyn Nets are the leading team in the Eastern Conference, with their 36-16 record being mightily impressive for a team that has had a plethora of injuries.
Brooklyn’s ‘big three’ of James Harden, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving have only shared the court on seven occasions this season.
But despite their injury woes, they still remain genuine challengers for the championship and the shrewd acquisitions of LaMarcus Aldridge and Blake Griffin have only further enhanced their chances of snatching the title from the Lakers.
As for the Lakers, a 32-19 record is only good enough for fifth in the Western Conference, suggesting that Frank Vogel’s side may have to conquer an extremely tough play-off run if they wish to repeat last year’s success in Orlando.
The main reason for their disappointing form has been the long absence of star Power Forward Anthony Davis, who has only played twenty-three times this season as he has struggled with a calf strain.
And when the Nets visit Los Angeles on Sunday, the Lakers will also be without their top scorer and natural leader, LeBron James, who netted 32 points last time the two sides met.
With the Lakers missing the leadership of James and power of Davis, all signs point towards a Brooklyn Nets victory.
Although the Nets will be without James Harden for this fixture, they will be boosted by the long-awaited return of a fully fit Kevin Durant, who scored 17 points (7/7 attempts) against the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday, despite only playing nineteen minutes.
The Lakers will need big performances from Dennis Schroder and Montrezl Harrell if they wish to stunt the Nets’ growing momentum and stop Steve Nash’s side gaining even more confidence as the off-season draws nearer.
If the two sides meet in the NBA finals, as many have predicted will happen, a very different game would be seen, as the Lakers would likely have star men LeBron James and Davis at their disposal again.
But as the rosters stand going into Sunday’s huge game, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant could very easily run riot in LA; the Nets are huge favourites.
Prediction: Brooklyn Nets victory
Predicted Player of the Game: Kyrie Irving