Tonight the Los Angeles Lakers travel to Oakland to take on the Golden State Warriors. In their first meeting earlier this month, the Lakers made a statement by beating the Warriors 117-97. Both Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson didn’t play particularly well that night, which might explain why they lost by such a wide margin.
In that game the Lakers’ bench came in and did a tremendous job of extending the lead, and they will have to do the same tonight if they stand a chance of beating Golden State a second time this season.
The Lakers are coming off a last-second 111-109 victory against the Oklahoma City Thunder last night. Nick Young delivered the game-winner to put the Lakers one game above .500. Timofey Mozgov played possibly his best game as a Laker, posting 16 points, three rebounds, two assists, and two blocks. The team will once again be without D’Angelo Russell as he recovers from a knee injury, so the Lakers guards will be expected to produce tremendously tonight.
Since losing to the Lakers, the Warriors have reeled off eight consecutive victories. During that stretch, both Curry and Thompson have found their offensive rhythm that is reminiscent from last season. Kevin Durant continues to fit in seamlessly with his new team. Golden State will try and avenge their early season loss in front of a raucous Oracle Arena crowd.
The backcourt of the Lakers is what drives this team. When Nick Young, Jordan Clarkson, Lou Williams, and D’Angelo Russell play well the team often comes away with a victory. Tonight, they will have to do it without Russell once again as he will be sidelined with a knee injury.
In his absence last night, veteran Jose Calderon did an outstanding job of running the first team offense. He finished with 12 points, six rebounds, and four assists. Although he will be outmatched tonight against Stephen Curry, he will need to do a little bit of what he did last night for a Lakers victory.
The trio of Young, Williams, and Clarkson has played exceptionally well. They give the team three solid playmakers that can create for not only themselves but for their teammates. They will need to work hard on the defensive end to keep the potent backcourt of the Warriors somewhat in-check.
The Warriors employ the best backcourt in the league. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson are two of the best shooters to ever play the game. Combined they are averaging 46.5 points per game. Playing alongside Kevin Durant has given them opportunities to see even more open looks at the basket. They will both be determined to redeem themselves after not playing well in their first meeting against the Lakers. In that game they combined to shoot 9-for-35 for only 23 points.
While many thought their production would decrease upon Durant’s arrival, it could not be further from the truth. They both average above 20 points per game, and are lethal from behind the arc.
Shaun Livingston remains a solid backup for the Warriors as he gives them another playmaker who allows Curry and Thompson to roam free off the ball. Rookie Patrick McCaw and second-year man Ian Clark provide the Warriors with depth.
Unfortunately for the Lakers they will also be missing a major contributor in their front court as Julius Randle has been ruled out with a hip pointer. This means pressure will be on the rest of the Lakers’ front court, especially defensively for the likes of Timofey Mozgov, Larry Nance Jr., and Luol Deng.
Although their team defense needs to improve, Mozgov provides them with a rim protector. He will need to hold his own when the guards of the Warriors try and make their way through the paint. They will need to use their size advantage tonight to make things difficult for the Warriors.
Brandon Ingram and Larry Nance Jr. have been excellent off the bench this season. When Nance Jr. enters the game, he brings energy that his teammates feed off of. While Ingram is only 19-years-old, he plays well beyond his years. Tonight against Durant, Ingram and Luol Deng will need to consistently try and make things difficult for him.
The frontcourt of Durant, Draymond Green, and Zaza Pachulia is as good as advertised. Durant has been dominant this season averaging 26.9 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. His style of play has fit in seamlessly with his new team, putting to rest any doubts that his play would interfere with the chemistry the team had built.
Although Draymond Green’s offensive numbers do not reflect his production of last year, he is still the vocal leader of their team. He provides the Warriors with energy and toughness. Andre Igoudala, who comes off the bench, does a decent job of spreading the floor. He’s becomes much more effective when he’s able to get others involved. The Lakers must do a good job of keeping the Warriors role players in-check.
3 Keys to Victory
Defend the Three
The Warriors are the leading the league with 117.1 points per game. As we know, when this team gets it going there is no stopping them. They employ the three of most lethal shooters from beyond the arc in Curry, Thompson, and Durant. If the Lakers want to come away with a win they must defend the three ball of Golden State.
Rebound, Rebound, and Rebound
The Lakers have a size advantage against the Warriors and must limit them to one-shot possessions. Allowing the Warriors to grab offensive rebounds can open up wide-open shots for Curry and company.
Taking care of the basketball is a must tonight. Committing turnovers would make it a long night as the Warriors will race down the court for easy baskets. Playing smart gives the Lakers a shot at making this a tough game for Golden State.
Los Angeles Lakers (8-7) Vs. Golden State Warriors (12-2)
7:30 P.M. PST, November 23, 2016
Oracle Arena, Oakland , California
TV: Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM (ESPN)/1330 KWKW (Spanish)
Projected Warriors Starting Lineup:
PG: Stehpen Curry
SG: Klay Thompson
SF: Kevin Durant
PF: Draymond Green
C: Zaza Pachulia
Key Reserves: Shaun Livingston, Andre Igoudala, David West, Ian Clark
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: Jose Calderon
SG: Nick Young
SF: Luol Deng
PF: Larry Nance Jr.
C: Timofey Mozgov
Key Reserves: Jordan Clarkson, Lou Williams, Brandon Ingram, Larry Nance Jr., Tarik Black