Round 2 is… TBA.
Teams in opposite conferences like the Nets and Lakers will play each other twice in the NBA’s 72-game season — once at home, one on the road — but the league has yet to announce the second half of its schedule.
Still, Kyrie Irving’s comment during his postgame press conference Thursday felt less like a reference to that yet-to-be-announced regular-season game and more like a reference to a much grander stage.
Kyrie Irving’s Bold Remark
Irving had 16 points, seven rebounds and five assists for the Nets at Staples Center. Afterward, he was already looking forward to the rematch — a remark many took as a prediction that the Nets and Lakers would see each other again in the NBA Finals.
Bold, but not a massive stretch by any means; analysts around the league were referring to Thursday’s Round 1 as a potential Finals preview, after all.
“We’ll see them down the line again,” Irving said, via SNY.
Next time, Irving hopes there’s a key difference: Improved health for both teams. On Thursday, the Lakers were without Anthony Davis as he continues to nurse an Achilles injury, while the Nets were missing Kevin Durant, who has been dealing with a nagging left hamstring injury.
“We look forward to it with a whole entire healthy Lakers team,” Irving continued. “That’s what we really wanted. I know everybody wants that. I’m looking forward to the challenge and seeing them down the line.”
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Meanwhile, it was the Nets’ fifth straight win as they continue to play soundly in all facets.
“We know that this doesn’t happen often,” Irving said, via SNY, “where you get a great collection of guys together that have been prominent guys in their roles on their respective teams. You’ve got guys coming off the bench that are starters for other teams. It makes our jobs a lot easier to go out there and just be ourselves.
“It is scary out there when other teams are doing their best to stay in the game defensively and we continue to compound more offensive execution. It’s just about limiting the guys on the other end and then having some fun on the offensive end to be able to create that separation, and then just feel good about playing well. Like I said, I didn’t have — I shot 7-for-17, five TOs (turnovers). In my book, I was like, ‘I wasn’t effective enough.’ (But) you’ve got to remove yourself and put the team first. We got a win together and we all did little things to contribute to this.”
Nets Improving Defensively
If the first meeting of the season between the Lakers and Nets proved anything, it’s that the latter can step up and play good defense when it wants to.
It was only the fourth time this season the Lakers failed to reach 100 points in a game.
“It’s about time we turned the corner defensively,” Irving said, via SNY. “No team is going to win anything in this league if they don’t get stops. It’s about time. And we heard ‘em (the critics) loud and clear the past few games.”