Thursday night’s contest between the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers was supposed to be one of those star-studded “Finals Previews” that we love to anticipate. Kyrie, KD, Harden, LeBron, and Anthony Davis all on the same court.
Unfortunately, it’s looking like Harden and James will be the only ones playing. Irving is listed as “probable” due to an ailing back after missing Tuesday’s night game against the Suns. He did, however, drop 40 on the Kings on Monday. Davis has a calf strain and will be out of the lineup and won’t return until after the All-Star Game. And the Nets have been extra careful with Durant all season, as he’s missed time due to COVID protocols and a bad hamstring — not an injury to mess around with, considering the star forward had season-ending Achilles surgery less than two years ago.
“It’s always exciting for me to go against some of the best guys in the game, and they got three of them,” James said of the Nets. “We definitely love to be [at full strength] when you play against a team like that and see at that point in the season where you match up against some of the best teams in the league. Obviously, we won’t be [at full strength] on Thursday.
“But other than that, yeah, I love going out there and just being out on the floor with some of the best to play this game.”
Besides the fact that we’re being deprived of seeing two teams that could meet in June, Thursday night’s game was going to be full of drama. In case you forgot, Irving said this last October on Durant’s podcast:
“One thing I’ve always been comfortable with is I felt like I was the best option on every team I played for down the stretch. This is the first time in my career where I could look down and be like, ‘That [expletive] can make that shot, too, and he’d probably do it a lot easier.’ You know what I mean? I feel like… Okay, well, it’s not really so much deferring. Because, in past situations, if I didn’t take the last shot, I felt guilty.
“Not that I didn’t say I didn’t have the trust in my teammates, but I felt like I was the best option…”
Two months later, it led to James responding with this.
Durant hasn’t faced James since the Lakers and Warriors met on Christmas day in 2018, as Los Angeles pulled off a 127-101 upset in the Bay. That was so long ago that James, Kyle Kuzma, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope are the only Lakers left on the roster from that day. The last time Irving and James shared the court was January of 2020, when the Lakers won a 128-113 contest in Brooklyn, as James finished with a 27-11-10 triple-double.
Hopefully, the Nets and Lakers will meet in Brooklyn at some point. Unfortunately, we don’t know if that will happen as the second half of the NBA’s schedule hasn’t been released yet. But, with the way COVID works, who knows if the game would even happen, as the league just announced that five new players have tested positive.
Welp, at least we have this.