The Los Angeles Lakers — as they’ve arguably been for about two weeks now — are in “win now” mode for the foreseeable future.
The list of reasons for that mindset is long. But the most simple reason is that the team is now 2-10 with a lot of ground to make up just to get to a semi-respectable .500 winning percentage, a percentage that may be an unofficial entry into the play-in tournament given how deep and talented the Western Conference is.
They will try to finally start that climb back up the standings on Sunday night versus the Brooklyn Nets after losing their last four games, in a matchup between two teams who have dominated headlines this season for all of the wrong reasons.
Off-the-court catastrophes meet on the court
The Lakers and the Nets are probably the most popular teams in the NBA this season. They’ve probably been that way for even longer than that, starting when they were both expected by many during the 2021 offseason to eventually meet in the 2022 NBA Finals.
Ever since that offseason, nearly everything has gone wrong for both franchises, with some of those pitfalls being out of their control but with most of them coming in self-inflicted ways.
They now meet at what may be the peak of their respective buzz worthiness.
The Nets have indefinitely suspended Kyrie Irving for his lack of immediate remorse after promoting a movie with anti-Semitic talking points on Twitter. The Lakers and Rob Pelinka are still not sure whether or not they will be trading draft compensation (and Russell Westbrook) to improve the team, all while a recent report indicates that LeBron James and “other core players” on the roster would very much like them to do so.
But the chaos of these two teams isn’t only isolated to off-the-court issues. Obviously with the Lakers, they flat-out stink. The roster is still as broken as it was last season with the three max contracts depleting the talent out of the remaining 4-15 spots. As for the Nets, they replaced Harden’s large contract with Ben Simmons’ max deal, with the 26-year-old scoring a putrid 5.6 points per game coming into this weekend’s action. They also mutually parted with head coach Steve Nash, with new head coach Jacque Vaughn indicating on Saturday that Kyrie Irving would continue to be away from the team from both the Clippers game today and the game against the Lakers on Sunday.
Speaking of which, I haven’t even mentioned these two teams’ superstars and their inability to actually be on the court, with Irving set to miss Sunday’s game along with the probability that LeBron James sits out as well with a groin injury. This lack of availability from these Lakers and Nets superstars is coincidentally best illustrated in the teams’ matchups of the past two seasons. At least two of the four of LeBron, Kyrie, Anthony Davis, and Kevin Durant have missed all four of the regular season games between these two teams over the last two years.
So... yeah. Here we are. Lakers and Nets. Woohoo.
Even though both teams bring a sense of dread into this matchup, one team will leave it with more happiness than the other. Although the Nets may have the upper hand with Durant and the Lakers without LeBron, they will be coming into Crypto.com Arena on the second day of a back-to-back after facing the Clippers today.
With that extra wear and tear, hopefully, the Lakers can take advantage and break their losing streak before both foolish franchises go their separate ways.
Notes and Updates
- LeBron James is listed as doubtful to play in Sunday’s game vs. the Nets. If Shams Charania’s recent report is to be taken for anything, LeBron James will almost certainly not play on Sunday due to tweaking his groin on Wednesday vs. the Clippers. Anthony Davis is listed as probable (lower back tightness).
- The Lakers will also be without Thomas Bryant and Dennis Schroder as they continue to recover from the surgeries on their thumbs weeks ago. The team gave an update prior to Friday’s loss vs. the Kings, saying the two will be reevaluated on Nov. 17.
- Lonnie Walker returned Friday after missing the past two games due to the illness that’s going around the team. Patrick Beverley did the same on Wednesday vs. the Clippers. No one is listed with anything to do with the illness on the injury report for this Nets game.
- The Nets will be doing the Los Angeles back-to-back with a game vs. the Clippers on Saturday. In the injury report for that game, Kyrie Irving (suspension), T.J. Warren (left foot injury recovery), Yuta Watanabe (left ankle sprain), and Alondes Williams (G-League play) were out.
The Lakers and Nets will tip off at 6:30 p.m. PT. The game will be nationally televised on NBA TV and locally on Spectrum SportsNet.
For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Donny on Twitter at @donny_mchenry.