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Preview: Warriors welcome LeBron and the Lakers to Oakland for Christmas

The champs are getting into their groove while the Lakers are making noise in the West despite injuries and drama

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Los Angeles Lakers Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Game Details

WHO: Los Angeles Lakers at Golden State Warriors

WHEN: Tuesday, December 25th at 5:00 p.m. PST

WHERE: Oracle Arena — Oakland, California


LISTEN: 95.7 The Game

BUDDY BLOG: Silver Screen and Roll

Injuries: JaVale McGee (pneumonia) questionable, Tyson Chandler (back) questionable, DeMarcus Cousins (Achilles rehab) out

The reigning, defending, back-to-back champion Golden State Warriors will be making their fourth consecutive primetime appearance on Christmas Day.

This holiday season, the Warriors will welcome LeBron James back to Oracle, except this time he’s bringing a new band of merry marauders. That’s right folks, the Warriors incinerated the Cavaliers and LeBron abandoned the flaming wreckage to join the Los Angeles Lakers.

The world will now see a clash of “Old Dynasty vs New Dynasty”, “SoCal vs the Bay”, and “LeBron vs the Splash Administration”.

To Live and Die in LA

There are only two things you can guarantee about the Lakers on a nightly basis: LeBron James’ stat-stuffing and Hollywood drama. James is averaging 27pts/8rebs/7ast this season with the same repetitive nonchalance of my hand bringing a mug of brandy and eggnog to my lips while listening to “Here Comes Santa Clause”. This man is unreal.

Meanwhile, the Lakers have stayed in the news with headlines they probably would have rather gone without.

Is anyone else getting the weird feeling that there’s a large contingent of Lakers fans who are grateful to LeBron for bringing them back to relevance, but stand ready at all times to throw him into the “Not Good Enough To Be A True Laker” doghouse for any failure?

Anyways, this team already had roster concerns in trying to mesh a youthful group of precocious prodigies like Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart,and Lonzo Ball with old war dogs like Rajon Rondo, Tyson Chandler, JaVale McGee, and Lance Stephenson. So far, LeBron’s starpower has been enough to pull the Lakers to a 19-14 record, good enough for 4th in the stacked Western Conference despite Los Angeles being riddled with injuries.

We’re two months into the season and we still don’t quite know what the Lakers are. At their best, this team is chock full of long, versatile athletes who crank up a dizzying fastbreak pace and move the ball in the spirit of the “Showtime” Lakers. They are ranked 2nd in the NBA in fastbreak points at 20.3 per game, and have the 4th fastest pace in the league.

At their worst, they are a team of non-shooters in the era where shooting is the most vaunted skill. They rank 16th in attempts from beyond the arc, and 20th in percentage from downtown (34.5%). Kuzma, Ball, and Ingram are all hovering around 30% from the arc. Ball in particular struggled in the Lakers last game, a loss to the Grizzlies.

Lebron on the other hand, appears to have been inspired by all of the triples the Dubs have drilled in his face over the years and is showing off the deep range.

Meanwhile in the Golden Empire...

The Warriors are looking forward to seeing the new look Lakers. Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant are both on hot streaks, evidenced by the way they went “Double Dragons” mode on the other L.A. team on Sunday night.

Curry and Durant have been the only two men to truly make LeBron fans sweat over “Best Player in the World” status since the King left Miami.

Per Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN: “We’ve seen him (Lebron) a lot over the last four years,” Curry said after scoring 42 points to help lift the Warriors to a 129-127 win over the Clippers. “It’ll be a fun atmosphere. Played him and his team on Christmas I think the last four years, including this year.

“It’ll be a fun atmosphere, a fun game [with a] Bay Area and Southern California vibe kind of reignited a little bit so it should be fun.”

The Warriors won 2 out of the last 3 Christmas Day contests, and each game went down to the wire. The champs are currently on a seven game winning streak against the Lakers, but the last couple did not come easy against the young Lake Show.

Now that LeBron is in the fold, I anticipate this game being a hotly contested battle well into the fourth quarter.

Gold-Blooded Prediction: LeBron shines, but the Warriors four All-Stars do enough to hand Los Angeles a Christmas L.

Warriors 118, Lakers 110