The Los Angeles Lakers won their fifth straight game Tuesday night when they defeated the New Orleans Pelicans 108-96.
They close out the season Wednesday night when they travel to face the NBA’s best, Golden State Warriors. With the Lakers firmly locked into the third worst record in the league, tanking is no longer on the minds of the front office and fans, so beating the Warriors for the second time this season and finishing the season on a six-game winning streak would be a nice way to end an otherwise disappointing season.
Despite already clinching the best record in the NBA, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr has elected to play most of his stars Wednesday to stay sharp for the playoffs. Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala are set to miss the game due to rest, but Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant are all expected to play, although their minutes will likely be restricted.
Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell is set to miss his second straight game, as he is still in Louisville with his family mourning the loss of his grandmother.
A lot of the Warriors success on the offensive end comes from their All-Star backcourt of Thompson and Curry, the reigning two-time NBA MVP.
Curry’s scoring numbers are down from last season, but he is still averaging 25.4 points per game this season while shooting 46.9 percent from the field and 41.2 percent from deep.
Thompson has become a model of consistency in his career, as last season he averaged 22.1 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists while shooting 47.0 percent and 42.5 percent from deep. He followed that up this season by averaging 22.5 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists while shooting 46.9 percent and 41.6 percent from deep.
Without Russell out of the lineup Tyler Ennis will likely see an increase in his minutes next to regular starter Jordan Clarkson. Ennis has really come on as of late as in his last nine games he’s averaged 11.3 points and 3.2 assists off the bench. He’s been hot from three-point range, as in that span he’s shot 44.1 percent from three. Ennis scored a career-high 20 point in Sunday’s win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
With Curry and Thompson likely playing limited minutes Ian Clark and Patrick McCaw should see some added playing time. For the Lakers, veteran Metta World Peace, fresh off a season-high 18 points, and rookie David Nwaba will see their fair share of minutes as well.
The Warriors frontcourt will be thin Wednesday night without Green and Iguodala, but the return of Durant in recent games should make up for that.
Durant, who is just getting back into the swing of things after missing over a month due to injury, has averaged 16.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 6.0 assists in two games since returning.
Lakers rookie Brandon Ingram will be matched up with Durant, the player many compare Ingram to, in the game. Ingram has gotten more aggressive on the offensive end of the floor in recent weeks, leaving Laker fans optimistic about the 19-year-old moving forward.
Ingram is coming off a game in which he scored 15 points on 6-of-16 shooting to go along with five rounds and six assists to help his team earn a victory against New Orleans.
Julius Randle, Larry Nance Jr., Tarik Black and Thomas Robinson will be the ones banging down low in the post with Zaza Pachulia, JaVale McGee and James Michael McAdoo.
Three Keys To Victory:
Get off to a quick start: The Warriors are one of the best shooting teams in the NBA and can score in a hurry at any time. When the Lakers have had success against them in the past they have gotten off to fast starts and didn’t look back.
Make the Warriors Bigs Beat You: If the Lakers leave Curry, Thompson and Durant open then they don’t have a prayer. But if they are chasing those shooters off the three-point line and making guys like McAdoo and McGee beat them, then their chances of winning grow tremendously. Of course, this is always easier said than done.
Have fun: It’s game 82 and neither team has anything at stake, so the Lakers young guys should just go out and have fun playing the game that they love.
Los Angeles Lakers (26-55) vs. Golden State Warriors (66-15)
7:30 P.M. PST, April 12, 2017
Oracle Arena, Oakland, California
TV: Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM (ESPN) / 1330 KWKW (Spanish)
Projected Warriors Starting Lineup:
PG: Stephen Curry
SG: Klay Thompson
SF: Kevin Durant
PF: James Michael McAdoo
C: Zaza Pachulia
Key Reserves: Shaun Livingston, Patrick McCaw, Ian Clark, JaVale McGee
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: Tyler Ennis
SG: Jordan Clarkson
SF: Brandon Ingram
PF: Julius Randle
C: Larry Nance Jr.
Key Reserves: David Nwaba, Corey Brewer, Tarik Black, Thomas Robinson, Metta World Peace