I’ve seen this movie before, but I’d gladly watch again.
Unexpectedly, it now appears likely that Warriors guard Stephen Curry and Lakers forward LeBron James will meet in the play-in portion of this season’s NBA playoffs. The matchup will be reminiscent of when the two met in four consecutive NBA Finals from 2015-18, when James was a member of the Cavaliers.
This potential off-beat sequel is a result of the Lakers’ loss to the Trailblazers on Friday, which left the James-less (for now) Lakers in seventh place in the Western Conference. The Warriors own the eighth spot as they prepare to face the Thunder on Saturday night.
Here’s some more insight from Anthony Slater of The Athletic.
While “most likely” is far from a done deal, this is a fascinating development.
The largest factor leading to this potential outcome is James’ health status. He’s missed 20 games due to an ankle injury, then recently returned for two games before agitating that same ankle, leading to more games missed. He’s scheduled to return for the playoffs, however. Or should I say the play-in.
But as Slater said, the Warriors have to keep winning. The Grizzlies are right behind them in the standings, and those two teams play one another to end the regular season.
The NBA is the biggest potential winner here. I imagine the ratings for a Curry/James playoff matchup — even in the play-in portion — would be enormous, thus making the league’s play-in experiment a huge success. There are roughly five games left in the NBA campaign, however, and this story is one to watch all the way to the end.
(Photo credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports)