This year, however, looks a little different.
James and the Cleveland Cavaliers faced the Curry Golden State Warriors an unprecedented four in a row in the 2015-18 NBA Finals, with the Warriors taking the lead three times.
This year, LeBron and the injury-riddled Lakers face a shrunken Warriors squad – not in the Finals, but in the new NBA play-in tournament for teams that finish midway through the regular season standings.
Basketball fans might be excited about the prospect of another LeBron-Steph game, but James himself is not a fan of the new NBA play-in tournament.
He recently said: “Anyone who made that up (expletive) must be fired.”
Either way, here’s how the playback format works:
7 on 8: The team that finished seventh in the conference for the regular season welcomes the eighth-place team in a one-game game. The winner of this game takes 7th place in the playoffs.
9 on 10: The ninth place team welcomes the 10th place team in a one-game match. The loser of this game is completely eliminated from the playoffs.
The loser of the 7-8 match welcomes the winner of the 9-10 match in a one-match match.
The winner takes the # 8 seed in the playoffs, and the loser of that game will be eliminated from the playoffs.
From this point on, the playoffs will proceed as usual.
The Lakers clinched 7th place on the regular season schedule on Sunday. So they face the Warriors in one game on Wednesday to determine which seed they would be in the traditional eight-seeded playoffs.
If they win, the Lakers become the 7th seed and face the Phoenix Suns.
If the Lakers lose, they face the winner of the Memphis Grizzlies against the San Antonio Spurs. The winner of this game becomes the 8th seed and faces Utah Jazz in the first round of the playoffs.
If the Lakers lose those two games, they will be eliminated from the playoffs and will not be able to defend their title.
A version of the play-in tournament idea was implemented last summer during the reboot in the bubble, but this season will be the first time the full play-in tournament has been used.
It might not last. As it stands, the idea has only been approved by the NBA Board of Governors for this season and the decision will be made this summer whether the play-in is to be fully implemented for future seasons. .
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