The Los Angeles Lakers’ Christmas day opponent has been announced and it should be a good one.
The NBA has tentatively announced its schedule for Christmas Day, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
- New Orleans Pelicans @ Miami Heat, 12 p.m. ET
- Golden State Warriors @ Milwaukee Bucks, 2:30 p.m. ET
- Brooklyn Nets @ Boston Celtics, 5 p.m. ET
- Dallas Mavericks @ Los Angeles Lakers, 8 p.m. ET
- Los Angeles Clippers @ Denver Nuggets, 10:30 p.m. ET
The marquee matchup is the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers against the Dallas Mavericks and their budding superstar Luka Dončić.
ESPN’s NBA insider Brian Windhorst initially believed that the league wanted to renew an old rivalry by pitting LeBron James and the Lakers against the Golden State Warriors, but a season-ending Achilles injury to Warriors guard Klay Thompson foiled those plans.
With the Warriors out of the primetime picture, who did that leave the Lakers to play? Last year the Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers met on Christmas. The NBA billed the game as James vs. Kawhi Leonard — the battle for LA.
The game lived up to the hype, but to be honest, that matchup has lost some intrigue since we didn’t get to see it in the Western Conference Finals last season. Perhaps the league could have gone that route again, seeing how the Lakers signed former Clippers forward Montrezl Harrell in the offseason and the Clippers signed Serge Ibaka, but they chose not to.
The Brooklyn Nets with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving returning from injury versus James and Anthony Davis would have been intriguing. Irving, James’s former teammate, and Durant, James’s biggest adversary in this era, have championship expectations this year.
If the Nets happen to get out of the Eastern Conference, it is most likely James who will be waiting for them on the other side. For the last decade, except for the 2019-2020 season, anybody that wants to win the title has to see James.
The battle for the title of “best player in the NBA” has been a two-person race over the last few seasons. Giannis Antetokounmpo won the regular-season MVP award over James, but James got the last laugh by winning the title and NBA Finals MVP honors. Seeing the two players compete under the bright lights makes for great TV.
Instead, we will see Doncic, 21, against James, 35, and the new-look Lakers roster. Early last season, the Mavericks played the Lakers in a primetime game on NBA Friday night, and that game went to overtime.
Both stars impressed, tallying triple-doubles, respectively. Dončić has drawn comparisons to James early in his career. His ability to fill a stat sheet plus score, rebound, and facilitate is eerily reminiscent of James when he burst onto the NBA scene.
James is no stranger to playing on Christmas. He has played in 14 Christmas day games — the second most appearances ever behind the late Kobe Bryant (16) — winning nine of those encounters.
No matter the outcome, the game will be fascinating to watch. Dončić might have next, but James has right now.