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When the Los Angeles Lakers host the Brooklyn Nets tonight, no one will be concerned with the statistics. Net ratings, plus/minuses and shooting percentages will fall by the wayside tonight when the teams take the court. The spotlight will be on one player.
A polarizing figure even in his time with the Lakers, Russell was the sacrifice of a Lakers front office intent on betting, and doubling down, on itself. Once the face of the rebuild in Los Angeles, Russell now holds the same role in Brooklyn. And once a divisive figure as a Laker, the enigmatic nature of Russell has multiplied exponentially in his departure.
Say what you want about the third-year guard, his offensive production has never been a question. Early in his third year, Russell is pouring in 21.7 points per game in 26.5 minutes. But each jumper is an extra twist of the knife for the Lakers fans and each three-pointer is another punch to the gut, a reminder of what is no longer theirs.
No matter your thoughts on Russell, Lonzo Ball or the process the Lakers front office is going through, tonight represents a crossing of roads of what could have been and what might be. For now, it’s all fans have with an uncertain future awaiting.
- Pace – The Nets play at the fast pace in the league by some margin. The Lakers, who are fourth-fastest at 104.35 possessions per 48 minutes, are over four possessions slower than Brooklyn. This will be an up-and-down game from the onset.
- Defense – The Lakers still rank in the top ten in defensive rating despite the Blazers scoring 600 points in the first quarter on Thursday. Brooklyn, meanwhile, is 27th in the league, giving up nearly nine points more than the Lakers per 100 possessions.
- Replacing Nance – The Lakers will be without Larry Nance Jr. for the foreseeable future after the big man broke his hand against Portland. With Luke Walton’s focus on keeping the bench unit together, the change might see Corey Brewer or even Luol Deng inserted into the lineup.