The Los Angeles Lakers are coming off a tough week in which they’ve gone 0-3. Things don’t get any easier tonight as they face off against the Pacific Conference leading Golden State Warriors. The Warriors are leading the league in offensive efficiency with a team-wide 55.2 effective field goal percentage. If you remember, the Lakers were blown out by the Warriors in their fourth game of the season. In that game the Lakers allowed 127 points on 55.4% shooting. Hopefully things will be prettier tonight.
Frontcourt: The Warriors starting power forward David Lee is still out with a hamstring injury. Draymond Green has been the biggest beneficiary of Lee’s injury and has played very well at small forward. Green can defend, rebound and shoot threes. What more can you ask for from budding young player? Green is averaging a career high 1.9 threes per game. At power forward, Harrison Barnes has been up and down, but has greatly improved his scoring efficiency. He is registering a career high 52.7% shooting from the field.
At center Andrew Bogut is the defensive anchor. He leads the team with 2.1 blocks per game and he’s managed to stay healthy thus far. With his size, Bogut is naturally a load on the boards; he snagged five offensive rebounds against the Lakers earlier this year. The Lakers won’t have to worry too much about Bogut on offense however.
Backcourt: Klay Thompson and Steph Curry are the most dynamic scoring backcourt duo in the NBA. Combined they are pouring in nearly 50 points per game. Klay Thompson had 41 points and Curry had 31 points against the Lakers earlier this year. Clearly the Lakers guards will be overmatched tonight by these sharpshooters. If the Lakers can’t figure out a way to stop these two, they’ll have very little hope of victory. Andre Iguodala is the Warriors sixth man who has regressed dramatically in his 11th season. Iguodala will be called on to defend Kobe at times and he’s still dangerous in transition.
Keys to Victory:
Limit The Splash Brothers: As mentioned above, the Warriors Splash brothers are prolific scorers. They will torch teams from the outside – Klay is averaging 3.1 treys per game and Steph is not far behind with 2.9 treys. Steph also has the ability to get his teammates involved as evidenced by his 6.6 assists per game average. The weakness the Lakers can seek to expose is Steph’s propensity for turning the ball over. He has 4.4 TOs per game which is not good. The Lakers need to key in on Steph and force him into bad decisions.
Kobe’s Efficiency: Kobe is averaging 25.4 points per game on nearly as many shot attempts (23.3). He’s only converting 36.7% of his field goals which is a career low. His efficiency is the worst I’ve ever seen it and at this point he’s actually hurting the Lakers offense more than he’s helping. Part of the blame has to lie with coach Bryon Scott whose offense has not looked good. But Kobe has to stop taking contested jump shots when double and triple teamed. Teams aren’t even worried about double-teaming Kobe because of how eager he is to shoot rather than pass. I don’t know that we’ll see any change in Kobe’s efficiency any time soon, but one can hope.
Offensive Cohesion: Right now the Lakers offense has two general principles – Kobe isolation and everyone else. The offense has not really integrated Kobe into it’s schemes well. You’ll see Jeremy run pick and roll with Jordan Hill, but you rarely see one of Jeremy’s passes lead to a Kobe basket and vice-versa. Byron Scott needs to figure out how to integrate Kobe into the offensive scheme and maximize his playmaking abilities.
Heading into tonight’s game, the Lakers are 8.5-underdogs against the Warriors according to Sportsbook.ag.
Golden State Warriors (7-2) at Los Angeles Lakers (1-8)
6:30 PM PST, November 16, 2014
Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
TV: TWC SN
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)
Warriors Projected Starting Line-up
PG: Stephen Curry
SG: Klay Thompson
SF: Draymond Green
PF: Harrison Barnes
C: Andrew Bogut
Key Reserves: PF: Marreese Speights SF: Andre Iguodala PG: Leandro Barbosa
Lakers Projected Starting Lineup
PG: Jeremy Lin
SG: Kobe Bryant
SF: Wesley Johnson
PF: Carlos Boozer
C: Jordan Hill
Lakers Head Coach Byron Scott On Kobe’s Health, Jordan Hill’s Jumper