Last night the Lakers displayed a high octane, run and gun, fun style of basketball. The fun doesn’t stop for the Lakers as they will be playing for the second night in a row. Tonight they’ll face the much hyped Warriors on the road at one of the loudest arenas in the NBA: Oracle Arena. This year the Warriors are thought of as one of the top six teams in the West with an outside chance of making a run at the Western Conference Finals. In his second year head coach Mark Jackson is looking for the team to improve from their 47-35, sixth seed campaign last season. The fans in Oakland will be raucous and the Warriors will be amped to get the season started which means the Lakers will surely have their work cut out for them tonight.
Frontcourt: One of the players Warriors fans say a little prayer for before they go to sleep each night is Andrew Bogut. Bogut is healthy at the moment, but he has had trouble in the past few seasons staying off the injured list. In the past two seasons Bogut managed to play just 44 games total. Pau Gasol will have to bang with Bogut in the post and box him out to secure defensive rebounds. At the four, David Lee is a workhorse who continuously sets screens, boxes out and scores with regularity in the post. Lee’s a double-double threat on any given night and will be a physical matchup for Shawne Williams.
Backcourt: The off-season addition of Iguodala solidifies the Warriors backcourt as one of the best in the League. Iguodala is a stat stuffer who can do everything on the court well. His versatility and defensive prowess will greatly help the Warriors. Iguodala will be a tough matchup for Nick Young. Stephen Curry’s good health is a relief to Warriors fans everywhere. If he stays healthy throughout the season he could end up being one of the best shooting point guards in League. Curry has insane range so Nash will need to guard him closely. Speaking of three point shooting, two guard Klay Thompson averaged 2.6 treys a game on 40.6% last season. He is a sharpshooter who is not afraid to let it fly and his size (6’7’’) may prove to be an issue for Steve Blake. Off the bench Harrison Barnes looks to be an early leading candidate for sixth man of the year. Barnes started at small forward last season, but was moved to the bench when Iguodala joined the team.
Things to Look For:
Bench Contributions: The Lakers bench looked energized and athletic last night against the Clippers. They were shooting lights out and thoroughly out played the Clippers bench who is thought to be one of the deepest in the NBA. Their contributions will be vital to any success the Lakers will have this year. Farmar, Kaman and Xavier gave the Lakers productive minutes against the Clippers. Xavier in particular looked aggressive and generally made the correct decisions on offense. His athleticism allows him to stay with quick players and he could end up being the Lakers best on-ball defender this year. Hopefully the bench plays well again tonight as the elder starters (Nash, Gasol and Blake) might not be able to go at full strength in a back-to-back.
Team Chemistry: It’s no secret that the Lakers chemistry is much improved this year after Dwight’s departure. The team looks like they’re having fun on the court together and the ball movement was great last night (except when Nick Young decided to go full Swaggy P mode and put on a dribble and dance clinic). Lakers will need to continue to share the ball on offense and play team defense on the other end of the court.
Defense? I’ve gone on record saying that the Lakers might score 105 ppg but might also give up 110 ppg in the process. This team is not composed of great individual defenders, but they can make up for those deficiencies by playing team defense. Great team defense includes helping each other off screens, timely rotations, boxing out and giving 100% effort. The Warriors are a high scoring team so the Lakers will need to get some stops on defense if they hope to win.
Los Angeles Lakers (1-0) at Golden State Warriors (0-0)
7:30 PM PST, October 30, 2013
Oracle Arena, Oakland, CA
TV: NBA TV, TWC SN
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)
Warriors Projected Starting Line-up
PG: Stephen Curry
SG: Klay Thompson
SF: Andre Iguodala
PF: David Lee
C: Andrew Bogut
Key Reserves: SF: Harrison Barnes, PF: Marreese Speights, SG: Kent Bazemore
Chris Kaman Says Clippers Will Never Have What Lakers Have