Two NBA super teams built to compete for a championship will meet for the second time this season when the Brooklyn Nets host the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday evening.
And like the first game, both sides will not be at full strength.
For the Lakers, LeBron James and Anthony Davis will be spectators. James will miss his 11th game in a row due to a right, high-ankle sprain he suffered on March 20 against the Atlanta Hawks.
And Davis will miss his 25th straight game because of a right calf strain. Both players are traveling with the team as the Lakers are in the middle of a seven-game road trip that finishes up with the New York Knicks on Monday and the Charlotte Hornets on Tuesday.
The Lakers are 2-2 on the road trip.
Davis missed the first game against Brooklyn, a 109-98 victory for the Nets in Los Angeles on Feb. 18.
With James and Davis on the mend and the Lakers struggling, L.A. brought in reinforcements by signing big man Andre Drummond and shooting guard Ben McLemore for more offensive firepower.
Lakers head coach Frank Vogel anticipates both players will help improve his team’s ability to put the ball in the basket. The Lakers are averaging a league-low 101.4 points a game over the past 10 games.
Another player Vogel has asked to take more shots is Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. And the shooting guard has responded by scoring an average of 15.5 points a contest over the past four games.
“I’m just taking full advantage of it,” Caldwell-Pope said. “I’m trying to stay aggressive every moment I have the ball, and just play. I’m not worried about anything.”
Kevin Durant also missed the matchup against Los Angeles earlier this year due to a hamstring injury but is healthy and will play on Saturday. However, James Harden will not play due to tightness in his hamstring. He is expected to be re-evaluated next week.
Even without Harden, Brooklyn remains one of the most dangerous teams in the league. The Nets enter Saturday’s matchup having won two straight and eight of their past 10 games.
Durant returned this week from the hamstring injury that forced him to miss two months, and he looked like his old self. Durant came off the bench and played 19 minutes, finishing with 17 points, seven rebounds and five assists in Brooklyn’s 139-111 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday.
“I expect to come out here and play the way I played,” Durant said. “I wasn’t trying to ease into the game. I just wanted to go out there and dive into the action. The game was already fast-paced, so watching it from the bench I knew exactly how I needed to approach it.”
Unlike the Lakers, the Nets have no trouble scoring the basketball, leading the league by averaging 119 points a game. As the Lakers have done, the Nets also added impact players, bringing in All-Star big men Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge last month.
“They’ve been fantastic,” Griffin said about the transition. “Since the time I got here, they’ve just kind of — for lack of a better word — accepted me. They’ve very positive in helping me out with the transition and trying to feel comfortable and normal, and encouraging me to play my game.
“Any time you have that, it obviously makes a transition like his much easier.”
–Field Level Media