Steve Nash will play his old team when the Lakers host the Phoenix Suns on… (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles…)
Below are five-must see games on the Lakers' 2012-13 schedule.
1. Jan. 17 vs. Miami Heat. Who knows if the Lakers will actually become a championship-caliber team. But this will be a good sign and measuring stick game on how they measure up to the defending champions. It'll reveal whether Metta World Peace still has the chops to defend LeBron James. It'll show whether the Lakers' highly talented offense will play efficiently enough against Miami's disciplined defense. It'll show whether the Lakers have enough depth to match the Heat's. The Lakers usually have tried to downplay such games, especially ones so early in the season. Even though this game will have no bearing on the Lakers' championship prospects in the postseason, it'll provide a good indicator on where they stand in reaching that destination point.
2. March 6 at Oklahoma City. The same logic applies to the Thunder, which eliminated the Lakers in five games in the Western Conference semifinals. This game marks the Lakers' last meeting with Oklahoma City at Chesapeake Energy Arena. It's safe to presume that an NBA Finals run will have to entail advancing past the Thunder in the Western Conference Finals. See this as the final dress rehearsal before it really counts.
3. Nov. 2 vs. the Clippers. The verdict is still out on whether the Lakers and Clippers will ever become a true rivalry. Usually that's answered in the form of championships. And the last time we checked, the Clippers still have none. But who cares. The Lakers and Clippers are still fun to watch, and it's obvious the buzz around L.A. has fueled the animosity between both teams.
Besides Blake Griffin's dunks and the inevitable trash talking, this game will also be interesting to see how the new rosters will take form. The Lakers have a more talented starting five led by Bryant and Nash, but the Clippers boast more depth with the additions of Lamar Odom, Jamal Crawford and Grant Hill. The Lakers' season opener Oct. 30 against Dallas will be intriguing for obvious reasons. But this is the first matchup against a possibly deep playoff team.
4. Jan. 30 at Phoenix. We will officially find out how the Suns' fanbase truly feels about Nash. Do they still express their hurt feelings and animosity toward Nash leaving the Suns for a hated division rival? Or do they appreciate everything he's provided for the organization? Forget the outcome of the game. The Lakers will win. But it'll be an emotional night for Nash, and an interesting plot for all to see.
5. Dec. 2 vs. Orlando. Yes, it's always a must to watch the Lakers on Christmas Day. This time, it's against the New York Knicks at Staples Center. But the Lakers' matchup with the Magic trumps that for one simple reason. Which uniforms will Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynum wear in this contest? If they're still playing for their current team, it's safe to say someone will bring up their thoughts on playing for the opposition.
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