LeBron James versus Stephen Curry, one of the greatest NBA rivalries of the century, will have a new chapter on Wednesday in the clash between the Lakers and the Warriors in the ‘play in’ (repechage) for a place in the playoffs in the West.
The Los Angeles Lakers will have the field advantage against the thriving Golden State Warriors in a game whose winner will advance to the first round of the playoffs, where they will meet the Phoenix Suns.
The loser will still have a second chance to qualify if he is able to beat the winner of the second play-in crossover on his court, which the Memphis Grizzlies and San Antonio Spurs will play on Wednesday.
“We take it as a seventh game (of the playoffs), for sure. Like a game that we have to win, “Lakers center Anthony Davis stressed on Tuesday.
The Lakers, current NBA champions, wanted to avoid at all costs the risks of the ‘play in’, created last year to extend the intrigue of qualifying for the playoffs.
LeBron himself, who is chasing the fifth championship of his career and the second with the Lakers, harshly questioned the justice of this new format, whereby the 10th seed in each conference can reach the postseason ahead of the seventh.
The 36-year-old forward suffered at the close of the regular phase Sunday from the injury to his right ankle that has kept him out of combat for most of the past two months.
It’s a little pain but it’s ready. He was able to fully participate in training today, “Lakers manager Frank Vogel said of ‘King James.’
Dependent on their two superstars, LeBron and Davis, the Lakers have slumped in the rankings since La Ceja suffered a muscle injury in February, when they ranked second.
The return of both for the final weeks of the regular season could not prevent the Lakers from finishing in seventh place and leaving great doubts about their ability to revalidate the title.
The Warriors, on the other hand, will appear on Wednesday at the Staples Center with eight victories in the last nine games at the hands of a Stephen Curry in a state of grace.
At 33, the point guard has been the NBA’s leading scorer for the second time (32.0 points per game) with astonishing streaks such as 11 straight games with more than 30 points, putting himself on the shoulder of a team that has little to do. see with the one who won three rings almost in a row (2015, 2017 and 2018).
With Kevin Durant on the Nets and Klay Thompson injured all season, Curry has only had Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins on his side as established pieces.
“We are going to play against, in my opinion, the MVP of the league this year, Steph,” admitted LeBron James.
– A historic rivalry –
The rivalry between LeBron and Curry, both born in the same town (Akron, Ohio), marked the NBA for five years with four consecutive matches in the Finals between 2015 and 2018.
Curry and the Warriors beat LeBron’s Cleveland Cavaliers in three of those ties.
James, on his side, prevailed in the 2016 championship, in which he managed to overcome a 3-1 against in the Finals against Warriors that that season had broken the record for victories in the regular season (73-9 ).
Both are among the only eight players in history with at least three champion rings and two MVP awards.
In total they have met 38 times, with 22 wins for Curry’s teams and 16 for James’s.
In “elimination” matches in which a team could win a playoff tie (a similar scenario to the “play in”), LeBron has four wins to three of Curry. (AFP) (GG)