The Los Angeles Lakers are going for their second straight win as they look for breathing room in the Western Conference standings. However, standing in the way is a red-hot Washington Wizards team playing their best basketball of the season.
Prior to an overtime loss to the San Antonio Spurs, the Wizards had won eight games in a row to put themselves back in play-in contention in the Eastern Conference. They’ve now won eight of their last 10 and 10 of their last 12 on the backs of Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal, who are both playing incredible basketball.
The Lakers, meanwhile, just squeezed by the Orlando Magic after suffering three consecutive losses. They’re still waiting for the return of LeBron James, but the superstar has already been ruled out so his anticipated return won’t be Wednesday.
As for non-James injuries, Jared Dudley has also already been ruled out, while Alex Caruso is also out with back spasms that forced an early exit from their last game. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Anthony Davis, Marc Gasol, and Dennis Schroder were all listed on the injury report as probable but are playing.
And while a few weeks ago this matchup with the Wizards could have been viewed as an easy win — even without James — it is no longer the case given what they’ve accomplished. The Lakers cannot do what they did with the Magic, allowing them to hang around, as this team will take full advantage.
Westbrook especially has been known to play some great games against the Lakers, meaning Schroder, Kyle Kuzma and others will have to devote special attention to him.
The Wizards actually serve as a great test for the Lakers given the construction of their roster. In the postseason, the Lakers may have to face several teams that feature elite guard play. The Portland Trail Blazers, Utah Jazz and Phoenix Suns all have guard tandems that can completely change a game, and L.A. needs to be prepared for any of them in a seven-game series.
If the Lakers can get a win against the Wizards, it sets them up well to reach a four-game win streak, as they face the Sacramento Kings and Toronto Raptors in their next two games. By then, L.A. can forget about potentially falling to the No. 6 seed, but they must play energized and consistent basketball to make that happen.
Lakers (36-25) vs. Wizards (27-34)
4:30 p.m. PT, Apr. 28, 2021
Capital One Arena, Washington D.C.
TV: ESPN, Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM ESPN LA
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: Dennis Schroder
SG: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
SF: Kyle Kuzma
PF: Anthony Davis
C: Andre Drummond
Key Reserves: Montrezl Harrell, Talen Horton-Tucker, Wesley Matthews, Markieff Morris, Ben McLemore
Projected Wizards Starting Lineup:
PG: Russell Westbrook
SG: Bradley Beal
SF: Raul Neto
PF: Rui Hachimura
C: Alex Len
Key Reserves: Davis Bertans, Ish Smith, Daniel Gafford
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