By Maximo Gonzales
The Los Angeles Lakers have certainly got it going as of late, winning consecutive games and increasing their record to 3-4 as they head into the Honda Center for their preseason finale versus the Golden State Warriors.
The last time these two teams met, the Lakers prevailed with an 85-70 victory over the defending champs. However, the game was cut short due to unsafe court conditions. The Lakers then escaped with a victory over the Portland Trail Blazers, thanks to a clutch game-winning dunk by Ryan Kelly, after the Lakers had just given up a five-point lead with 17 seconds left on the clock. Marcelo Huertas dazzled in his Laker debut, as he displayed his tremendous playmaking ability, recording eight points and eight assist in 19 minutes.
The Warriors frontcourt is anchored by big man Draymond Green, whose high motor earned him All-NBA Defensive First Team honors while finishing second in voting for Defensive Player of the Year. It will be interesting to see the match-up between him and Julius Randle. The last time these teams met, Green had some trouble guarding the quickness of Randle as he dominated in the first quarter. Meanwhile, Harrison Barnes will line up at the three spot. Barnes is certainly capable of filling a stat-sheet, as he produced six points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals in his last outing versus the Clippers. With Andrew Bogut still out with a broken nose, Festus Ezeli remains the starter at center.
The Golden State backcourt is one of the more electrifying guard combos in the league. Dubbed the “Splash Brothers,” MVP Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson led their team to a victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals, despite only 10 years of combined experience. Still young and very entertaining, they will be looking to follow their act by to proving that last year wasn’t a fluke.
Keys to Victory:
Protect the Paint: The Lakers allowed 50 points in the paint versus a Trail Blazers team whose big men were primarily perimeter players in Meyers Leonard and Chris Kaman. With Green and Ezeli primarily being post-players, you can expect the Warriors to feed it inside for some high percentage shots. The Lakers also gave up ten offensive rebounds in their last outing and will need to hold their own versus an aggressive Warriors squad trying to produce second-chance points.
Continue Taking High Percentage Shots:
As a team, the Lakers shot 45 percent against the Trail Blazers thanks to the quality of shots they were able to take. A lot of that has to do with how well they have been spreading the ball around on offense producing 22 team assists. The offense has looked a bit more efficient as of late, especially with Marcelo Huertas in the lineup. At times, the purple and gold tends to fall in love with the deep ball and though it will be important for them to be a threat from there, going 6-for-19 from three-point land isn’t ideal.
Get Ahead and Stay Ahead:
The difference between playoff-contending teams and other teams is that more often than not, the playoff teams are able to close out games when they need to. In order for the Lakers to compete for a playoff spot in the powerhouse Western Conference, they will need to win those close games. They were seemingly able to do this in their last outing, however, a pointless foul at the three-point line and a careless inbound pass almost resulted in overtime. The Lakers will need to develop that finishing mindset early on if they plan on playing more than 82 games this season.
Golden State Warriors (2-4) vs Los Angeles Lakers (3-4)
7:00 PM PST, October 22, 2015
Honda Center, Anaheim, CA
TV: TWC SportsNet/ TNT
Radio: 710 ESPN (English)/ 1330 ESPN (Spanish)
Warriors Projected Starting Lineup:
PG: Stephen Curry
SG: Klay Thompson
SF: Harrison Barnes
PF: Draymond Green
C: Festus Ezeli
Key Reserves: SF: Andre Iguodala, SG: Brandon Rush, C: Marreese Speights
Lakers Projected Starting Lineup:
PG: D’Angelo Russell
SG: Jordan Clarkson
SF: Anthony Brown
PF: Julius Randle
C: Roy Hibbert
Key Reserves: SG: Lou Williams PG: Marcelo Huertas SF: Nick Young PF: Ryan Kelly