The 66-game season has not been kind to the Warriors – they had already been without their starting PG for most of the year and recently their best frontcourt player, David Lee, went down. Perhaps they are packing it in and looking ahead to the lottery. Nevertheless, the Lakers should not play down to their competition and assume that they’ll come away with a win. Playing a back-to-back on the road is never easy.
Frontcourt: Losing David Lee really hurts the Warriors frontcourt depth. Lee was their best offensive post player, screen setter and rebounder. Biedrins has assumed the starting role at center and has struggled. The Warriors usually opt to go for a smaller lineup during games and shift Jeremy Tyler from the four to the five. Tyler had his first double-double against the Spurs on Monday night; however, Tyler has trouble staying out of foul trouble and hasn’t lived up to the hype that he had coming out of high school. At the wing, Wright has stepped his game up: he’s knocking down threes and playing tough defense.
Backcourt: Starting point guard Charles Jenkins has regressed and seen a drop off in production – in the past five games he’s averaged just 4.4 points and 3.2 assists. On the other hand, backup point guard Nate Robinson has been stellar lately and has taken up most of the minutes at the one. On Monday night, he dropped 30 on the Spurs to go along with seven dimes. The Warriors seem to have found their shooting guard of the future in Klay Thompson. Ever since Ellis was traded away, Thompson has proven that he deserves to be an NBA starter. In 23 starts he’s averaging 17.7 points and an impressive 2.3 treys. He’s a spot up shooter who is constantly moving without the ball to get open. Thompson is also able to create his own shot and if he keeps developing at this pace he will be very good. Backup two guard, Brandon Rush is one of the few shooting guards who averages 1 block and 1.5 treys per game. He’s a great role player who is very efficient with his minutes.
Keys to Lakers’ Victory:
Don’t Play Down to Competition – The Lakers are infamous for playing to their competition’s level. This is a positive against good teams like the Spurs but a negative when they play down to an injury-riddled team like the Hornets. The Lakers should consistently play at high level regardless of their competition, and that’s something that this team needs to learn.
Dominate the Post – To be frank the Warriors frontcourt is weak. Biedrins has not performed well and Tyler is still learning the game. Bynum should come out aggressive and position himself deep in the paint. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Bynum post a 20-20 game tonight.
Shut Down the Guards – If the Lakers can shutdown Nate Robinson and Klay Thompson then the Warriors will be hard-pressed score. Force the ball to the post and let Jeremy Tyler and Andris Biedrins try to beat the Lakers.
Los Angeles Lakers (39-23) at Golden State Warriors (22-38)
4:30 PM PST, April 18, 2012
Oracle Center, Oakland CA
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)
Warriors Projected Starting Line-up
PG: Charles Jenkins
SG: Klay Thompson
SF: Dorrell Wright
PF: Jeremy Tyler
C: Andris Biedrins
Key Reserves: SG Brandon Rush, PG Nate Robinson, SF Richard Jefferson