The most anticipated day of the NBA calendar is finally here, and we aren’t talking about the Finals. Every season, Christmas Day offers basketball fans one more gift in the form of an absolutely stacked slate of matchups that are sure to brighten up the holidays even more.
This year, the Lakers are set to face the uber-talented Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks in a primetime matchup at Staples Center. While teams would normally have a few weeks of action before facing off in the highly competitive Christmas Day games, this time it comes as the second game of the year after a quick turnaround from the 2019-2020 season.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at some key storylines to look out for on December 25th.
Luka vs LeBron
The main event of the night will be the battle between LeBron James and Luka Doncic for the most impactful player on the court. Both players got off to rough starts to the season, at least by their standards. LeBron struggled out of the gate for the Lakers on Tuesday evening against the Clippers, but he finished the night with a decent stat line of 22 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists. Luka, meanwhile, scored 32 points in a 106-102 loss to Phoenix, albeit while shooting an inefficient 11 of 26 from the field.
Both stars will be looking to put together better performances on the big stage come Friday evening, and the game may come down to which superstar has a more efficient outing. These Christmas matchups usually come down to the wire, and this one should be no different.
A Big Night for Anthony Davis
If Luka versus LeBron is the main event, Kristaps Porzingis battling against Anthony Davis should have been a close second. The former, however, is still dealing with a knee issue that has kept him from any action so far this season.
With Porzingis set to miss the Christmas Day matchup, look for Anthony Davis to have a big night against the Dallas bigs. Dwight Powell and Willie Cauley-Stein figure to see the most minutes against AD, but neither has the skill set to stop the Lakers’ big man for a full game.
LA’s Identity Dilemna
Perhaps the biggest factor in this matchup is one of the least talked-about as well. Everyone knows that this Lakers team is absolutely stacked, but that talent didn’t lead to an Opening Night win against the LA Clippers. Just like any other team with so many new pieces, the Lakers are having an identity crisis.
Last season, the game plan for LA clearly revolved around their defense. They were big, long, and athletic enough to give any team issues scoring the ball. But this year’s group is built to revolve around the offensive side of the ball, not the defense. In the second half of their game against the Clippers, the bench unit seemed to find a game plan that worked for them, but we still need to see that from the starting group.
If the Lakers are going to win this game, they will need to take a giant step forward as they search for their style of play with this brand new roster.