The Lakers will face off against the Warriors after opening the season 0-3. During preseason the Warriors had their way with the Lakers. Not that preseason is necessarily indicative of the regular season but it’s noteworthy that the Warriors beat the Lakers by a combined 56 points over two games. The Lakers couldn’t stop Curry or Thompson from asserting their will on the perimeter. Clearly the Lakers will need to shore things up defensively if they want to stay competitive tonight. The Warriors aren’t known to be defensive juggernauts so hopefully the Lakers can keep the score close.
Frontcourt: David Lee is listed as questionable for tonight’s game. If the Warriors top rebounder can’t play, Harrison Barnes will likely start in his place. Barnes hasn’t lived up to expectations, but he is a useful role player. Throughout his career he’s struggled to score efficiently. He was just three of ten from the field in the Warriors first game.
Green has been a revelation for the Warriors and played like a stud on opening night. He had twelve points, two threes and ten boards. He’s a powerfully built small forward who outweighs his Lakers counterpart, Wesley Johnson, by 15 pounds. Johnson will have his hands full keeping Green off the boards tonight.
At center the Warriors start Andrew Bogut who is primarily a rim protector. He had four blocks in his first game and his sheer size could give the Lakers problems. Often times Steve Kerr opts to go with a small lineup and plug Marreese Speights in at the five. Speights is a more gifted score than Bogut and is reliable from about fifteen feet and in.
Backcourt: The Splash Brothers – Curry and Thompson – are electric and can put up points in a flash. Curry is a pure scorer and will certainly keep Jeremy Lin on his toes. Expect Curry to go off for at least twenty points. He had 24 points, 10 rebounds, 6 steals and 5 assists on Wednesday against the Kings.
Thompson is not just a scorer he’s actually a very hard working defender. He’ll likely draw the assignment of guarding Kobe tonight. Thompson is a sharpshooter and can’t be given any room along the perimeter. He had 18.4 points per game last season; this could be the year when Thompson averages over 20 points per game.
Keys to Victory:
Stifling Perimeter Defense: The Lakers need to start playing defense in general. Through the first three games the Lakers have yielded an average of 115 points per game. That’s atrocious and embarrassing. Does this remind you of a certain Lakers team that finished 27-55? If the Lakers want to be competitive with the Warriors they will absolutely have to limit Curry and Thompson on the perimeter.
Lin Facilitating The Offense: When Lin facilitates the offense good things happen. Take last night as an example – Lin had nine assists and was dribble driving with reckless abandon. As a result the offense was flowing and the Lakers netted 111 points on 51.2% shooting. That’s very efficient and it’s a bit surprising the Lakers lost with that stat line. It’s imperative that Lin assert himself on offense and get his teammates the ball in open space.
An Efficient Kobe: Kobe Bryant is an amazingly talented scorer. I can’t even begin to count the number of times I see him make a near impossible shot look routine. He’s a generational player, but unfortunately the sun is setting on his career. Kobe footwork looks great out there and he’s still knocking down very difficult shots over double and triple teams. However, an inefficient Kobe that scores 30 points on 30% shooting will ultimately hurt the Lakers chances of winning. Defenders are more willing to help on Bryant because they don’t expect him to pass. Kobe needs to trust his teammates and pass the ball when he’s double teamed.
Heading into tonight’s game, the Lakers are 16-point underdogs against the Warriors according to Sportsbook.ag.
Los Angeles Lakers (0-3) at Golden State Warriors (1-0)
7:30 PM PST, November 1, 2014
ORACLE Arena, Oakland, CA
TV: TWC SN, NBA TV
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 vs. Rockets: Byron Scott Talks Julius Randle’s Injury, Dwight And Kobe Scuffle