The rematch between the Golden State Warriors and Phoenix Suns on Friday night will now take place on national TV, as ESPN has opted to flex the contest between the two teams with the best records in the NBA.
That shouldn’t be surprising, in and of itself. What is surprising is that the game replaces a contest between the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers. It’s the first time I can recall seeing the Lakers gets flexed out of a primetime spot.
You usually don't see the Lakers getting swapped out of national TV games. But here it is. On Friday, ESPN will now broadcast the Warriors-Suns game instead of the Lakers-Clippers game— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) December 2, 2021
It’s worth noting that the scheduling change occurred before the NBA announced that LeBron James had cleared the health and safety protocols, thus making him eligible to return to the court on Friday.
LeBron James has been tested rigorously since returning to L.A. from Sacramento - he’s had eight Covid tests since Saturday, all of which have come back negative, sources told ESPN. His test in Sacramento was a false positive and James will return to the court Friday against LAC— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) December 2, 2021
But even with James returning, it’s the right move.
The Warriors and Suns figure to put on a show, after Phoenix edged Golden State on Tuesday. That game was highly entertaining despite Steph Curry having an awful shooting night and Devin Booker suffering an injury. Booker is unfortunately likely to miss the rematch, but it’s a safe bet that fans will be treated to a much better Curry performance this time around.
With identical 18-3 records, the Warriors and Suns share the best record in the NBA. Phoenix plays the struggling Detroit Pistons on Thursday night, however, meaning they’re likely to pull ahead of the Warriors in the standings before the rematch. Assuming the Suns beat Detroit, they’ll enter Friday’s game riding an 18-game winning streak.
And now fans all across the country will get to see the exciting action.