LeBron James will face the Golden State Warriors for the first time as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers in Christmas Day’s most anticipated NBA matchup. The Lakers come in at 19-14 in LeBron’s first season at the helm, sitting in playoff position, while the Warriors enter the game at 23-11, a record head coach Steve Kerr said he’s happy with given the injury problems they’ve had.
There will be plenty of star power, as the Warriors will counter LeBron with Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, the four All-Stars that LeBron has faced every Christmas since the 2015-16 season as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
This year’s game will renew the Northern California-Southern California rivalry, and there will be no shortage of excitement for what should be a great game. Here’s how to watch and what to look for on Christmas Day.
How to watch Lakers at Warriors
- Date: Tuesday, Dec. 25
- Time: 8 p.m. ET
- Location: Oracle Arena — Oakland, California
- TV: ABC/ESPN
- Live stats: GameTracker
- Odds: Warriors -9
Lakers: LeBron James is set to play at Oracle Arena for the first time as a Laker, and for the first time since the NBA Finals. He hasn’t always had success there, but he’ll always have the memory of bringing Cleveland its only NBA title on that very court in 2016. This is a huge test for the Lakers, who are mired in the Western Conference playoff traffic jam that sees the No. 1 team and the No. 14 team separated by only eight games. In order to beat the Warriors, they’ll obviously need a big game from LeBron (which is almost a guarantee), but they’ll also need a secondary scorer to step up, whether it’s Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, or even Josh Hart or Lonzo Ball. It will also be a big test for the Lakers defense, which is much improved after getting off to a slow start.
Warriors: With the Durant-Draymond Green drama seemingly behind them, the Warriors are thriving behind a healthy Curry, who’s coming off a 42-point performance and a game-winning layup against the Clippers on Sunday. Steve Kerr says that the offense and defense are starting to click, and that he thinks his team will go on a run soon, and they come into Christmas having won eight of their last 10 games.
Game prediction, pick:
The nine-point spread seems a bit high, given LeBron’s propensity for big games at Oracle Arena and the young Lakers’ excitement taking on the defending champs on Christmas. The Warriors are capable of big second-half runs, but James will keep his team composed, and they’ll keep things close down the stretch. Still, there’s just not enough firepower and experience to beat a hot Warriors team on the road under the bright lights. Warriors win, Lakers cover.