Pre-Game Report: Lakers Face Pacific Division Rivals, Warriors

Golden State Warriors (2-4) at Los Angeles Lakers (4-4)
7:30 PM PST, January 6, 2012
Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
Radio: 710 ESPN (English)/ 1330 ESPN (Spanish)

Warriors Projected Starting Line-Up:
PG: Brandon Rush
SG: Monta Ellis
SF: Dorell Wright
PF: David Lee
C: Andris Biedrins

Key Reserves: G Nate Robinson, F Ekpe Udoh, F Dominic McGuire

The Lakers look to rebound from a double-digit loss in Portland as they face the Golden State Warriors, who have lost three straight. The Warriors are beginning a completely new management system, including new head coach, Mark Jackson. The Warriors have a 148-240 all-time record against the Lakers, with a 41-142 record on the Lakers’ home court, including losing six straight at the Staples Center.

Frontcourt: The strength of Golden State’s frontcourt is the offensive play of David Lee. Lee has stepped of his game within the past three years and has been a great fit in Golden State. This season Lee is averaging 17.6 points per game and 8.4 rebounds per game. The starting small forward position for the Warriors is a definite weak spot. Dorell Wright is averaging 5.5 points per games and 5.2 rebounds per game so far this season. Matt Barnes and Metta World Peace need to take advantage of this position matchup. Andrew Bynum should have no problem dominating the center position over Andris Biedrins. Biedrins is averaging 3.7 points and 5 rebounds per game. The Warriors don’t get much help out of their reserve center, Kwame Brown, which Laker fans are all too well aware of. Brown is averaging 4.7 points and 6.3 rebounds per game, but is not a strong threat on the offensive boards.

Backcourt: Golden State has a strong backcourt with Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry. However, Curry might be limited in tonight’s game due to a re-spraining of his ankle for the third time this season. Yet, this injury hasn’t seemed to have a major effect on his performance thus far as he is averaging 15.2 points, 5. 6 assists per game, shooting 50 percent from the field and 41 percent from the three-point line. Monta Ellis has been a scoring threat in the NBA for a couple of years now and he is coming off a huge game in their loss against San Antonio on Wednesday night. Ellis is averaging 23.8 points and 8.2 assists per game. Brandon Rush is in his first season with Golden State, and is currently averaging 8.9 points off the bench. Rush can be a threat from the three-point line, where he shooting 47 percent.

Keys to Lakers’ Victory:

Limit Turnovers, Improve Transition Defense: The Lakers are creating over 15 turnovers per game. This number has gone down from the first couple of games of the regular season. However, the Lakers are still committing sloppy turnovers, which opponents take advantage of. The Warriors are a fast, young team. In fact, they are the second youngest team in the NBA. The Warriors capitalize on points off turnovers and since they are a fast team, they also capitalize against slower defenses. Transition defense is an area where the Lakers have had problems, but need to improve for a win against Golden State.
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Points in the Paint: Since his return from suspension, Andrew Bynum has been dominant in his performances thus far. Bynum, who is averaging 22.3 points per game and 15.8 rebounds per game, should have no problem winning the matchup against Warriors’ center Andris Biedris or reserve center Kwame Brown. With Bynum’s stellar performance along with the scoring threat of Pau Gaol, look for the Lakers’ frontcourt to have a big night against Golden State’s weaker big men. However, a lot of Laker fans and analysts are calling for Gasol to be more aggressive both offensively and defensively. With a weak frontcourt on the Warriors’ end, tonight’s game would be the right opportunity for Gasol to do so.

Defend the Outside Shot: The backcourt of Golden State loves to drive the ball, then kick it out for an open outside shot. First, the Lakers bigs need to prevent themselves from committing fouls when the Warriors’ guards drive into the paint. Second, the outside defenders must not leave their man to help the bigs defend. Further, Ellis tends to attempt pull-up jumpers early in the shot clock before the defense can set. If the Lakers can stop this, they can most likely limit Ellis’ game production and have the best chance for victory.

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