The Lakers and Clippers will collide for the second year in a row during the opening night of the NBA, the league announced on Wednesday.
But while the season opener at Staples Center last season was a Clippers home game celebrating the arrival of Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, this episode will be the Lakers’ opening night as the defending champion.
The Lakers are expected to accept their championship rings at Staples Center before the match’s scheduled tip on December 22 at 7:00 p.m. The game will be broadcast nationally on TNT, following the opening game of the season between Golden State Warriors and Brooklyn Nets.
NBA champions usually have a ring ceremony and lift a title banner on the opening night of the following season. The team’s original plans were to hold a ring ceremony, but hold off on raising a banner – the 17th of the franchise – until fans could access Staples Center. But with the season kicking off with no fans and no clear indication that the COVID-19 pandemic will abate during the 2020-2021 season, the Lakers cannot wait.
It will be Lakers’ first home game since March 10, before the pandemic put the competition on hold. LeBron James, Anthony Davis and the Lakers have not been able to participate in many of their championship public celebrations – a parade was postponed due to concerns about COVID-19.
The splendor of another Lakers championship should have an incentive for the Clippers, who were considered title contenders last season before dropping out of the playoffs a round for the first potential gang series between LA teams.
The Lakers and Clippers went 2-2 last season, with the Clippers taking the first two meetings on Opening Night and Christmas Day.
The rivalry has also been reinforced by Montrezl Harrell, one of the most recognizable faces for the Clippers of recent years. switch sides during free agency on a two-year deal with the Lakers.
Both teams will be featured in the national NBA schedule three days later on Christmas: the league confirmed previously leaked games in which the Lakers host the Dallas Mavericks and the Clippers travel to the Denver Nuggets.