September 28, 2023

Other than the incessant drama between Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets, there’s not a whole lot going on in the NBA during these dog days of August. That will all change when the 2022-23 schedule drops, reportedly some time next week, when fans will start calculating potential records and circling key dates on the calendar.

One such key date is Christmas Day, which always features the cream of the crop in terms of marquee players and teams. While this year’s slate is still a mystery for now, we’ve gotten a clue about at least one holiday matchup. In the first draft of the 2022-23 NBA schedule, LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers are set to face Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks, according to longtime NBA reporter Marc Stein, who added that things can still change before the schedule is officially released.

This matchup makes a lot of sense given that James, who will be close to his 38th birthday by the time Christmas rolls around, has been the face of the NBA for almost two decades. The 23-year-old Doncic, given the incredible start to his career and his international appeal, is one of the prime candidates to carry the torch for James if he somehow becomes mortal and decides to retire any time soon.

Aside from their superstar leaders, however, both the Lakers and Mavericks have major question marks heading into next season. The Lakers missed the playoffs in a nightmare 2021-22 regular season, and haven’t made a big splash in the free-agent or trade market this offseason — though the speculation that they’re going to acquire Kyrie Irving from the Nets has become more ubiquitous than that Matt Stafford commercial was during the playoffs.

The Mavericks are coming off Doncic’s first Western Conference finals appearance, but they lost a key cog in the machine when Jalen Brunson elected to sign with the New York Knicks last month. Dallas added talented big man Christian Wood, but time will tell whether Doncic will have enough backcourt help after Brunson’s departure.

James has a 6-2 advantage over Doncic in career head-to-head matchups, according to Land of Basketball. The two only faced off once last season, with James putting up 26 points and Doncic scoring 25 points as the Mavericks came away with a 109-104 win in Los Angeles.

If the teams end up playing on Christmas, it will be an excellent chance to observe two of the most unique players in basketball. And who knows, it could be one of the last chances to see James at all as he enters the twilight of his all-time great career.

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