On Thursday, the NBA returns with the first games inside the Orlando bubble. It starts with the Jazz and Pelicans; then, the late game is between the Lakers and Clippers.
It will be a different scene for the NBA without fans in attendance, and without any home court advantages. But they just tested players again and had zero positive tests for COVID-19, so there are high hopes that this bubble can succeed.
The Clippers are going to be shorthanded early in this restart. Several players have left the bubble, resulting in them having to quarantine before returning to play.
There was a lot of drama behind Lou Williams and his decision to get some hot wings. He went to Orlando strip club “Magic City” and now won’t be able to play in the opening game.
However, he insists that the stop was only for wings. He was on his way back from attending a family funeral.
Montrezl Harrell also left the bubble last week. He left for an undisclosed personal matter and has yet to rejoin the team. Once he does, he will have to self-isolate for at least four days before being able to play.
Patrick Beverly has also been in quarantine, being listed as questionable for this matchup. He left on Sunday for a personal matter, so his four-day quarantine will officially end just hours before the game.
Los Angeles Lakers
There has been a little less movement and drama inside the Lakers’ locker room. Lebron James is looking to capture his fourth title inside the bubble.
The biggest question for this game has been whether or not Anthony Davis will be able to play. He had been poked in the eye during a scrimmage last week and has been unable to participate in practice.
The latest news is that he will be on the floor for the Lakers on Thursday. But he might have a different look, rocking the goggles for eye protection.
“He looked better than anybody that’s ever worn them,” head coach Frank Vogel said. “It’s a style thing. We have a good-looking superstar that looks great in glasses or goggles or whatever you want to call those things. It was great to have him back out there. It’s still going to be dependent on his evaluation tonight, how he feels overnight, and we’ll see how the eyes feel tomorrow.”
The Clippers are a better-built team with more pieces at every position. But the Lakers have the better superstars. The lack of key players for the Clippers because of self-isolation might play a significant role.
It might be a tough call at full strength, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see James make a statement in this first game back. Both of these teams have to prepare for a championship run.
The Lakers are four-point favorites, and I will take them to win this opener.