The Los Angeles Lakers will play their first preseason game on Friday, which also happens to be the two-month anniversary of the day the Lakers clinched their 17th championship with a win over the Miami Heat in Game 6 of the NBA Finals. If it feels like that was just yesterday, that’s because it basically was.
While some teams haven’t played since March, when the season was indefinitely suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, the Lakers are still trying to catch their breath from their championship run. For that reason, Lakers head coach Frank Vogel isn’t expecting his star players, LeBron James and Anthony Davis, to be active for their preseason opener against the Clippers on Friday.
“We haven’t made that decision yet,” Vogel said. “I will say it’s probably unlikely that they will play.”
Davis would like to take the court with his teammates on Friday, but he understands that it would be in his and the Lakers’ best interest to take things as slowly as possible.
“I don’t want to rush into anything,” Davis said. “We’ve seen, unfortunately, how football went with no preseason and a shortened season. A lot of injuries have happened, and you kind of don’t want that, the same thing. So I’m going to build up the right way. The coaches have done a great job of doing that with our team, building up the right way.
“We discussed it a little bit, about Friday. We’re going to discuss a little more tomorrow, seeing how the body feels. I mean, we just had three days of camp with a short time to recover. We’ll discuss more tomorrow, Thursday, the day before the game, and just kind of see where it goes, but like I said, coach is already on everybody taking care of their body since we’re in a shortened season, especially with no bubble. COVID plays a factor. All these things that can be game-changers for teams.
“He’s doing a good of making sure we’re healthy and it’s something that we talk about.”
With both James and Davis doubtful for Friday’s contest, we could see players towards the end of the bench get meaningful minutes for the first time in a while, including Talen Horton-Tucker. Horton-Tucker has impressed Vogel early on in training camp, and a strong performance against the Clippers would build some nice momentum for him going into a season where minutes at the guard position will be hard to come by.
It’s also likely that we’ll see Horton-Tucker’s South Bay Lakers teammates, Kostas Antetokounmpo and Devontae Cacok, in addition to a few potential South Bay Lakers in Kevon Harris, Zavier Simpson and Tres Tinkle. Friday could be the closest thing we get to a Summer League this season.
The Lakers and Clippers will tip-off at 7 p.m. on Friday.