The Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors have faced off three times this season with each of the contests being exciting games that went down to the wire. But coming into their final meeting of the season, the story is who won’t be suiting up.
The Lakers will be without Brandon Ingram who is dealing with a groin strain and Josh Hart who is still recovering from a broken bone in his hand. Additionally, Kyle Kuzma is out after spraining his ankle in Tuesday’s win over the Denver Nuggets.
The Warriors injury report is even more daunting. Stephen Curry (sprained ankle), Klay Thompson (fractured thumb) and Draymond Green (shoulder soreness) are all out. As are vital rotation pieces David West (right arm cyst) and Patrick McCaw (fractured wrist).
That being said, the Warriors will still have reigning NBA Finals MVP Kevin Durant on the floor and he alone is reason to worry. Durant is capable of carrying any team offensively on any night and it will be interesting to see how the Lakers choose to guard him with Ingram out.
Even without three of their stars, the Warriors have some players ready to contribute as they gear up for the playoffs. Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston in particular should be ramping things up and have been in every situation possible.
Additionally, former Laker Nick Young would definitely love to have a huge night against his old team.
The Lakers’ recent success has been due in large part to their front court and that will need to continue. Brook Lopez and Julius Randle scored the Lakers’ first 17 points against the Nuggets and both have been punishing teams down low recently.
Against a Warriors team that isn’t the biggest, and is also missing bodies, attacking in the paint and potentially getting guys in foul trouble could be huge. Randle in particular continues to be the driving force for the Lakers, and even more so since Ingram went out.
With Green and West both on the sideline, the Warriors don’t have someone who can match Randle’s strength in the post which could lead to another big game. The Lakers will also be extremely reliant on their backcourt trio of Lonzo Ball, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Isaiah Thomas.
All three played over 30 minutes in the first of a back-to-back, with Lonzo leading the way at 41. With the lack of depth for the Lakers, head coach Luke Walton will be calling on them once again, especially if Kuzma is unable to suit up.
Thomas has been huge for the Lakers in recent games with his ability to both score and set up teammates late. But Ball and Caldwell-Pope must be locked in on both ends of the floor.
Three Keys to Lakers Victory
Attack the Paint: The Warriors give up a lot of points inside and the Lakers’ best offense recently has come from the post attack of Randle and Lopez. Continuing that strategy and dominating the Warriors down low is the best route and could potentially put a short-handed team in foul trouble.
Win the Turnover Battle: The one issue the Warriors have always had throughout this era has been taking care of the ball. The Lakers undoubtedly have their issues with ball security as well and giving the Warriors easy buckets is the quickest way to lose this game. If L.A. can win this battle they will give themselves a shot.
The Other Guys: With so many players missing, this game could swing depending on which role player steps up with a huge contest. For the Lakers this means Ivica Zubac, Travis Wear, Tyler Ennis, or even possibly Derrick Williams may need a big night.
L.A. will also need to contain players like Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, Young, Omri Casspi, and Jordan Bell.
Los Angeles Lakers (31-36) Vs. Golden State Warriors (51-16)
7:30 P.M. PST, March 14, 2018
Oracle Arena, Oakland, California
TV: Spectrum SportsNet, ESPN
Radio: 710 AM (ESPN)/1330 KWKW (Spanish)
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: Lonzo Ball
SG: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
SF: Kyle Kuzma
PF: Julius Randle
C: Brook Lopez
Key Reserves: Isaiah Thomas, Ivica Zubac, Travis Wear, Alex Caruso
Projected Warriors Starting Lineup:
PG: Quinn Cook
SG: Nick Young
SF: Kevin Durant
PF: Kevon Looney
C: Zaza Pachulia
Key Reserves: Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, Jordan Bell, Zaza Pachulia
WANT TO PARTICIPATE IN THE DISCUSSION? CHECK OUT THE NEW LAKERSNATION FORUM CLUB