When the Lakers last saw the Hawks in Atlanta, the story of the game was LeBron James vs. Courtside Karen, a fan who yelled at LeBron that she was going to “f--- him up,” got ejected from the arena along with her husband and seemingly fueled LeBron to score 12 points in the fourth quarter and put the Hawks away.
A lot will be different for this matchup. For one, there won’t be any morons sitting courtside trying to fight LeBron, as Staples Center is still not allowing fans, so the Hawks have that working in their favor. Atlanta also fired head coach Lloyd Pierce since that matchup, and have gone 7-0 since handing the reigns to Nate McMillan. The team has also gotten healthier and started to find their stride, and have risen all the way to fifth in the Eastern Conference after the Lakers dropped the Hornets down a slot by beating them on Thursday night:
Now, the Hawks have not faced the highest-quality opponents during this recent stretch, but they’re eager to try and prove their turnaround is for real against some better ones, starting with the Lakers:
On this seven-game win streak, the Hawks have faced only one team that has a winning record (Miami).— Sarah K. Spencer (@sarah_k_spence) March 19, 2021
The streak is obviously still significant, as the Hawks were previously struggling in the 4th quarter against all caliber of opponent, and they've improved on that front.
Just two weeks ago, the Lakers might have seemed more like a team they could keep their success rolling against. But the purple and gold are on a streak of their own, winning their first four games since the All-Star break to rise to second place in the Western Conference. So against all odds, this actually appears to be a pretty meaningful game for both teams, as far as random regular season matchups between two teams in opposite conferences go.
The Lakers will probably still be favored to win on Saturday, but with a weird, 12:30 p.m. afternoon start time, who knows what will happen in this one. Add in that there will be no Courtside Karens to fuel LeBron, Atlanta’s current win streak and that Rajon Rondo is probably due for his one really good, completely unexpected and usually revenge-based regular season game of the year, and maybe we actually should be picking the Hawks to win here.
Notes and Updates
- Marc Gasol and two-way player Kostas Antetokounmpo are no longer listed as out under the health and safety protocols. Here are the injury reports for both teams:
The Lakers do not have Marc Gasol ruled out for tomorrow's game. It appears he has cleared the protocols. pic.twitter.com/AsHP74I5Vb— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) March 20, 2021
- Should LeBron James win his fifth MVP this season? He, his teammates and coach all think so, and made the case for it on Thursday.
- Dennis Schröder wants to stay with the Lakers. So why is an extension not done? I dug in.
- I also spent Thursday asking the Lakers if they cared about getting the No. 1 seed. The answer? Not really, but they do want to make sure they keep improving.
- Want to stay informed on the latest trade rumors as the deadline approaches? Bookmark our tracker.
As mentioned above, this one is tipping off at 12:30 p.m. PT on Saturday. The game will be shown exclusively on Spectrum SportsNet.