The Los Angeles Lakers have had a rough start to the season, but will look to get things on track and pick up their first win of the season when they host the San Antonio Spurs.
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Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma will be making their first starts of the season as they replace Rajon Rondo and Brandon Ingram, who start their respective suspensions. In the way of the Lakers getting their first win are the Spurs who have been riddled with injuries early on this season.
After losing starting point guard Dejounte Murray to a torn ACL in the preseason, replacement Derrick White has been ruled out 6-8 weeks with a heel injury. Nonetheless, the Spurs are still a more than formidable team led by a pair of All-NBA players in DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge.
DeRozan is one of the NBA’s best scorers, averaging 28 points per game so far, while Aldridge has been dominant on the glass, especially on the offensive side. The Spurs as a whole are the best in the league in offensive rebounding so the Lakers must be sure to box out every possession.
Another place where the Spurs have a huge advantage is from beyond the arc. So far, the fears of many have been realized as the Lakers have been abysmal from three-point range. The Spurs are shooting 43.6 percent from deep as a team while the Lakers have just one player shooting at that level, and it’s the suspended Rondo.
With shooters like Patty Mills, Marco Belinelli, Davis Bertans and Bryn Forbes, the Lakers’ defense will have to be locked in and communicating at all times. Any mistakes, and the Spurs will make them pay.
With no Ingram or Rondo, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see LeBron James assert himself more early on as the pressure to create will fall even more on his shoulders. James has been stellar so far, but he may need to raise his play even further to help the Lakers turn things around.
JaVale McGee will need to continue his strong early play, especially when it comes to helping the Lakers control the glass. Furthermore, the Lakers sorely need Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to shake off their early-season shooting struggles.
It will also be worth watching how Luke Walton now handles his bench rotation. Josh Hart has arguably been the Lakers’ second-best player after LeBron, and Lance Stephenson has provided exactly what was expected of him both good and bad. After that, however, is now a question mark.
Michael Beasley, Svi Mykhailiuk, Ivica Zubac, and two-way player Jonathan Williams could all potentially get a shot to make an impact depending on the situation. Needless to say it will be interesting to see what Walton ultimately goes with as the pressure will only increase if the Lakers continue to pile up losses.
Los Angeles Lakers (0-2) Vs. San Antonio Spurs (1-1)
7:30 P.M. P.T., Oct. 20, 2018
Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
TV: Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM (ESPN)/1330 KWKW (Spanish)
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: Lonzo Ball
SG: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
SF: LeBron James
PF: Kyle Kuzma
C: JaVale McGee
Key Reserves: Josh Hart, Lance Stephenson, Jonathan Williams
Projected Spurs Starting Lineup:
PG: Bryn Forbes
SG: DeMar DeRozan
SF: Rudy Gay
PF: LaMarcus Aldridge
C: Jakob Poeltl
Key Reserves: Marco Belinelli, Davis Bertans, Dante Cunningham, Pau Gasol, Patty Mills