The Los Angeles Lakers are hoping to take revenge on the Golden State Warriors, who left Staples Center with a 115-113 comeback victory when they faced the defending NBA champions last month.
The Warriors capitalized on the Lakers’ propensity to let up, which has been haunting them throughout the season. L.A. started settling for jumpers on the offensive end, allowing Golden State to get in the groove and come back from 14 points down in the final period.
The Warriors lead the NBA in assists (28.1 per game) and excel at forcing turnovers (15.8). They are an opponent against whom lapses of concentration will come at a hefty price — just as the Lakers discovered a few weeks ago.
L.A. still boasts the best defense in the league with a 105.8 defensive rating — even despite their recent losing streak, eventually ended by the 102-93 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers. Making stops and exerting pressure on Golden State’s backcourt spearheaded by Steph Curry will be of paramount importance to success in the clash.
Dennis Schroder’s availability should help L.A. put clamps on Warriors shooters as evidenced by his return’s impact in the victory over Portland. Head coach Frank Vogel was looking forward to Schroder’s duel with Brooklyn Nets superstar Kyrie Irving, which the NBA’s health and safety protocols successfully thwarted.
Schroder’s tenacity and speed matched against Curry’s elite shooting and off-the-ball game should make up for just as exhilarating a contest.
Former Warrior Damian Jones could make a Lakers debut against his old teammates. Even though rookie James Wiseman endured a nightmare game in the first meeting with L.A., the 7-foot center still possesses a wealth of talent that can cause a great deal of damage on a good night.
Marc Gasol could use help from Jones coming up against Wiseman and now-starter Kevon Looney — particularly in the absence of Anthony Davis — to ensure the Lakers dominate the glass again.
The Warriors are vulnerable on the defensive end allowing 112.7 points per game (10th most in the NBA) this season. That, combined with some extra focus and fewer turnovers from LeBron James, could pave the way to victory for the Lakers.
Lakers (23-11) vs. Warriors (19-15)
5:00 p.m. PT, Feb. 28, 2021
Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
TV: ESPN, Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM ESPN LA
Projected Lakers starting lineup:
PG: LeBron James
SG: Dennis Schroder
SF: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
PF: Markieff Morris
C: Marc Gasol
Key Reserves: Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell, Alex Caruso, Wesley Matthews, Damian Jones
Projected Warriors starting lineup:
PG: Steph Curry
SG: Kelly Oubre Jr.
SF: Andrew Wiggins
PF: Danny Green
C: Kevon Looney
Key Reserves: James Wiseman, Kent Bazemore, Damion Lee, Brad Wanamaker
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