Lakers Vs. Warriors Preview: LeBron James Out In First Game Post All-Star Break
Anthony Davis, Draymond Green, Lakers, Warriors
Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

The last time the Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors met, they put on arguably the best game of the entire NBA season in a 145-144 double overtime classic won by the Lakers. Now, the two teams will meet in similar positions in their first game out of the All-Star break.

Both the Lakers and Warriors won six of their last seven games going into All-Star Weekend and are fighting to move up the standings and get out of the Play-In Tournament. The Lakers have to do so without LeBron James, however, who is missing the contest due to ankle tendinopathy.

The Lakers are also notably without Cam Reddish due to an ankle injury and Christian Wood due to a knee issue.

This puts a lot of pressure on Anthony Davis to lead the way for the Lakers, but he has proven to be more than up to that task. This has especially been the case against the Warriors as they have no answer for Davis on the interior, so his dominance in the paint on both ends of the court is absolutely crucial.

Just as crucial is the play of Rui Hachimura, who has stepped up in a big way since being inserted into the starting lineup. He had a career-high 36 points in the Lakers’ last game against the Utah Jazz and with LeBron out and they need Hachimura to continue taking on more of the offensive workload.

That also applies to D’Angelo Russell, who has been outstanding over the past couple of months both as a scorer and playmaker. He famously hit the game-winning 3-pointer in that last contest so a hot-shooting night would be huge against a team who thrives from deep the way the Warriors do.

Obviously much of that has to do with future Hall of Famer Stephen Curry, who continues to be one of the most unguardable players in the NBA. The greatest shooter of all-time can change the game in an instant and who the Lakers have to throw at him is interesting, especially with Jarred Vanderbilt out. Austin Reaves, Taurean Prince and Spencer Dinwiddie are likely to spend the most time on him, but it takes an entire team effort.

The key for the Lakers defensively is not allowing multiple role players to have massive nights. Jonathan Kuminga has been on a tear over the past couple of months while Brandin Podziemski is a very talented rookie who could hurt the Lakers in a number of ways. Not to mention the Warriors recently moved Klay Thompson to a bench role so he could provide a huge boost that the Lakers reserves must match.

This is a big game and the Lakers need a win to start this stretch run off right. Not having LeBron makes the path tougher, but this team has proven they can rise to the occasion regardless of who is on the court. But Curry and the Warriors are looking for revenge and to leap the Lakers in the standings.

Los Angeles Lakers (30-26) vs. Golden State Warriors (27-26)

7:00 p.m. PT, Thursday, February 22, 2024
Chase Center, San Francisco, California
Radio: 710 AM ESPN LA

Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:

PG: D’Angelo Russell
SG: Austin Reaves
SF: Taurean Prince
PF: Rui Hachimura
C: Anthony Davis

Key Reserves: Spencer Dinwiddie, Jaxson Hayes, Max Christie, Colin Castleton

Projected Warriors Starting Lineup:

PG: Stephen Curry
SG: Brandin Podziemski
SF: Andrew Wiggins
PF: Jonathan Kuminga
PF: Draymond Green

Key Reserves: Klay Thompson, Dario Saric, Kevon Looney, Gary Payton II

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