With the Los Angeles Lakers hosting to Golden State Warriors in the first round of the Play-In Tournament on Wednesday night, perhaps the one thing making the defending champs comfortable is the size advantage they have.
The Lakers can go at the Warriors in a variety of different ways, whether it be playing big with their three centers in Andre Drummond, Marc Gasol and Montrezl Harrell that all do different things well. Or if they go small, they still have a size advantage with Anthony Davis and LeBron James.
After returning from a calf/Achilles injury, Davis has really found his form as of late, averaging 28.0 points, 9.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists over his last five games while also getting back to the All-NBA defender that Laker fans were accustomed to seeing.
Davis poses matchup problems for every team across the league, although the Warriors are perhaps one of the best teams equipped to guard him as they have one of the best and most versatile defenders in recent history in Draymond Green.
Ahead of Wednesday night’s matchup, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr revealed that the plan is for Green to essentially guard Davis one-on-one, and he discussed the pros and cons of that, via Anthony Slater of The Athletic:
“The pro is that we’ve got I think the best defender on earth guarding one of the best players on earth. You always want to be able to go in and have a matchup for a guy like Anthony Davis. I think that outweighs the cons. The cons are that Draymond can’t play as much centerfield, which he’s really good at. But the No. 1 thing going in is you got to be able to guard Davis because if you can’t guard him then you got to double team him and that opens up everything. So it’s great to have Draymond playing at such a high level and we’ll see how the game goes and we’ll adapt as we go.”
Kerr and Green have dealt with Davis in a playoff series before with the Warriors defeating the New Orleans Pelicans in five games in the second round in 2018. Davis still averaged 27.8 points, 14.8 rebounds and 2.0 assists that series though, so even then, his size still was an issue for a Golden State team that went on to win the championship.
Davis willing to play as much center as needed
One thing that will be interesting to see with Green matching up against Davis is if it will be at the power forward position or center. It’s no secret the Warriors like to go small, but if the Lakers play another big man then they would be forced to match up that way.
Going back to last postseason though, the Lakers’ best lineups have been with Davis at center and he is prepared to do that against the Warriors if necessary.
“If I need to play the five, you guys know I will. I have no problem with that come playoff time, but that team is different sometimes. They throw Draymond [Green] at the five. We might go Marc [Gasol], Trezz, Drumm out there at the five and I stay four or we might make an adjustment where I’m at the five and Kuz, Bron are four or three.”
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