Friday night the Lakers return to the hardwood after four days of rest. Unfortunately they will be facing the streaking Warriors who are exactly the type of team that will give the Lakers fits. Under coach D’Antoni the Lakers’ modus operandi has been to outscore their opponent and essentially ignore playing defense. Trouble is the Warriors are probably the best in the League at this strategy and if the Lakers seek to run and gun, the Warriors will stomp them. Clearly the Lakers will need to figure out some other way to beat the Warriors who are winners of five straight. At the very least it’ll be a fun high scoring game.
Frontcourt: News flash! Andrew Bogut is not injured yet. The Warriors center has battled an assortment injuries in the past three seasons and struggled to stay on the court. This year he’s stayed healthy and is anchoring the Warriors defense with 1.8 blocks per game. At the power forward position David Lee gives his team a post-scoring presence and is the team’s number three scorer with 17.4 ppg. Additionally Lee is the best rebounder on the team and has averaged 2.3 offensive boards per contest.
Harrison Barnes’s return to the Warriors has been a huge boon. He’s essentially the Warriors’ sixth starter and is versatile enough to play multiple positions. Typically he’s a wing, but he can play the power forward position if the Warriors opt to play small ball.
Backcourt: Stephen Curry expects to travel with the Warriors but he has suffered a mild concussion and will need to be cleared by team doctors in order to suit up. Curry has been solid this year and while he may be scoring three points per game less than last season, his assists are up by nearly two. Curry is clearly the key cog to the Warrior’s offensive machine. I almost forgot to mention that he is draining 3.2 threes a game at an insane 43.8% clip.
If Curry is unable to play, Iguodala will man the point as he did against Memphis on Wednesday. Iguodala is a jack-of-all-trades type of player and he managed to tally 14 assists in the point guard role against Memphis. He’s also the team’s best defender and most efficient scorer (55.7% FG and 66% eFG). eFG adjusts for made three pointers being 1.5 times more valuable than a 2 point shot.
The Warriors two guard Klay Thompson is one of the best pure shooters in the NBA. He leads the team with 20.6 ppg on 52.5% FG and 3.3 threes per game on an obscene 48.8% FG. That’s the definition of a sharpshooter and whoever gets assignment of guarding Klay will need to stick to him like white on rice.
Keys to Lakers’ Victory:
Limit Iguodala: With Steph Curry’s status up in the air for tonight’s game, the Lakers should prepare to stop Iguodala. The Warriors’ offense flows through Iggy when Curry is out. Whoever guards Iggy will need to turn him into a jump shooter and prevent him from penetrating and dishing.
Get Hot From Downtown: The Lakers have seven players who can legitimately stroke it from deep. They’ll need to rely on hot shooting to keep pace with the Warriors’ prolific scoring. Interesting fact: the Warriors are number one in the league with 10.6 threes per game and the Lakers are second with 10.2 threes. Expect a three point shooting contest tonight.
Defend Just Enough: If the Lakers can limit Iguodala and get hot from downtown, they may still come up just short of beating the Warriors. They will ultimately need to stop the Warriors from scoring buckets. The Lakers allow 39.8 field goals per game to opponents which is tied for second worst in the League. On the flip side their opponent’s field goal percentage is a middling 45.2% which is just about the NBA average. Which goes to show the Lakers’ defense is not as terrible as most people think, but then again it also isn’t great. The Lakers will need to play defense “just enough” to get the win.
Golden State Warriors (8-4) at Los Angeles Lakers (5-7)
10:30 PM PST, November 22, 2013
Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
TV: ESPN, 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