Lakers Vs. Warriors Preview: Defending Champs Come To L.A. In First Game Back From All-Star Break
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers return from the All-Star break to face the Golden State Warriors at home on Thursday night.

The Lakers entered the break after an important win against the New Orleans Pelicans while Golden State lost to the L.A. Clippers at Arena in their final game before All-Star Weekend. The Warriors have the third-fewest road victories in the entire league and are struggling to stay afloat with Stephen Curry out due to injury.

Two-and-a-half games ahead of L.A. in the standings, a win against the Warriors could go a long way in the Lakers’ playoff push. With 23 games remaining in the schedule, it will require all hands on deck for the Lakers, and initially, it seems that will be the case.

All players are available for L.A. with no injuries. LeBron James got an off day at Wednesday’s practice but Darvin Ham said the finger he injured in the All-Star Game is not an issue at all and James is expected suit up after being listed as probable along with Anthony Davis. With everyone able to play, Ham yet again has to make some tough decisions in the rotation.

The Warriors have more radical injury problems. Curry is still out with a lower left leg injury and is set to be reevaluated next week after missing the last five games. Andrew Wiggins is out as he deals with a personal matter while Andre Iguodala is also out with a hip injury. Everyone else is available for the defending champions.

These two teams squared off almost two weeks ago in a debut for multiple Lakers newcomers. The Lakers took care of business, winning the road game without LeBron. Curry and Iguodala missed that game but Wiggins did play. His absence in Thursday night’s game means Draymond Green will likely defend James.

Wiggins missing the game is one thing, but Curry’s absence spells trouble for Golden State. The Warriors are 9-11 this season in games without Curry — eight of those losses have come on the road. But, they still can’t be taken lightly.

Golden State is still one of the best offenses in the NBA, especially with sharpshooters Klay Thompson and Jordan Poole who can catch fire rapidly. Poole had 17 of the Warriors’ 24 points in the fourth quarter of their last meeting. He and Thompson are a challenge for any group of guards in the league.

Defensively though, the Warriors allow opponents to shoot 49.4% from the field on the road — four percentage points higher than what they allow at home and 23rd worst in the league. Teams are also putting up 123.5 points per game and shooting 40.2% from deep against them on the road, both the second-worst in the NBA.

Historically a great road team, the difference between the Warriors at Chase Center and away is a bizarre story this season. And since their two remaining matchups against the Lakers are away, L.A. can potentially cover some ground in the standings with victories.

But, if there’s one team that at times struggles to follow the script, it’s the Lakers. A key matchup to gather some more steam awaits them at Arena.

Los Angeles Lakers (27-32) vs. Golden State Warriors (29-29)

7 p.m. PT, Feb. 23, 2023 Arena
TV: TNT, Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM ESPN LA

Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:

PG: D’Angelo Russell
SG: Malik Beasley
SF: LeBron James
PF: Jarred Vanderbilt
C: Anthony Davis

Key Reserves: Dennis Schroder, Austin Reaves, Rui Hachimura, Troy Brown Jr., Lonnie Walker IV, Mo Bamba

Projected Warriors Starting Lineup:

PG: Jordan Poole
SG: Klay Thompson
SF: Jonathan Kuminga
PF: Draymond Green
C: Kevon Looney

Key Reserves: Donte DiVincenzo, Jamychal Green, Anthony Lamb, Ty Jerome, Moses Moody

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