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The Lakers can’t afford injuries to LeBron or Anthony Davis. Welp.

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We have that and more in Monday’s NBA newsletter.

Los Angeles Lakers v Brooklyn Nets - NBA China Games 2019 Photo by Zhong Zhi/Getty Images

Count me among those that believes the LA Lakers to be as close to a lock for the NBA playoffs as you get without being the 2017-19 Warriors. There’s only really one thing that can keep the Lakers from making the playoffs in the West, and that’s injuries to its superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis. The team is shallow enough that extended or repeated absences would really sting.

So it’s not a great sign that Davis sprained his thumb in the Lakers’ Saturday game against the Nets in China. He’ll have an MRI on Monday.

This particular injury isn’t likely to be a big deal — fingers crossed — but it’s a reminder of the fragility of top-heavy teams reliant on two stars, one of whom is 34 years old and the other of whom has been a bunch of games several times in his career. The Lakers can be really, really, really good ... unless one or both of those guys just isn’t available every night. Let’s hope that’s not the case.

Schedule

Six preseason games on Monday, two of which are on NBA TV.

Hornets vs. Grizzlies, 8 p.m. ET, NBA TV
Warriors vs. Lakers, 10:30 p.m. ET, NBA TV

We are eight days away from opening night.

Links

Two great Matt Ellentuck pieces on the WNBA champ Mystics: one on how this could be a dynasty in the making and another on her Finals performance cementing Elena Delle Donne as one of the best ever.

I wrote about the contract impasse between Buddy Hield and the Kings and how it threatens the team’s hard-won good vibes.

Ricky O’Donnell on the return of the old Steph Curry.

The Celtics gave Tacko Fall a two-way contract. Who’s moving to Maine with me?

What Chinese basketball fans on the street thought about the NBA vs. CCP standoff last week.

Jeremy Lin dropped 40 in his first game in China.

The experience of being a Clippers fan watching Shai Gilgeous-Alexander on another team.

Not basketball, but I wrote about Eliud Kipchoge running 26.2 miles in less than two hours, proving that humans can collectively defeat any challenge.

Also not basketball, but there’s a good argument that Simone Biles is the greatest athlete ever.

The great Luke Bonner has a web series that begins with him shooting with presidential candidate Andrew Yang.

Spencer Dinwiddie is convinced the NBA has no standing to block his plan to turn his contract into an investment vehicle, and he says he’s moving forward.

The Wizards’ stars think the Mystics and WNBA players in general should get a bigger slice.

Michael Sykes on why there’s a real market for fake sneakers.

And finally: brilliant idea from Haley O’Shaughnessy, a dictionary of the terms you need to know for the 2019-20 season.

Be excellent to each other.