The Los Angeles Lakers are rolling and they will look to win their fourth straight when the Golden State Warriors come into town tonight. The Lakers have won their last two games without Kobe Bryant in the lineup, and the Warriors may be without the Most Valuable Player for the second straight game.
Both Kobe and Steph Curry are questionable for tonight’s matchup, but the Lakers are looking to take advantage of a depleted Warriors team. The Warriors are 31-2 and are on pace to break the Chicago Bulls regular season record of 72-10. Golden State is hoping their star player will not miss any significant amount of time as they try to set the record for regular season wins, but first they will have to beat a young and confident Lakers team.
Frontcourt: Draymond Green is coming off of an incredible performance against the Denver Nuggets, posting 29 points, 17 rebounds, and 14 assists. Green can do it all and he consistently fills the stat sheet regardless if Curry is in the lineup or not. Outside of Curry, Green is probably the most important piece to the Warriors. He is the glue that keeps the Warriors together and he has played incredibly as of late.
Accompanying Green in the frontcourt is Harrison Barnes, who recently returned to the lineup after spraining his ankle on November 27. Barnes is also a key contributor in the winning machine that is the Golden State Warriors. The third-year player out of North Carolina is an excellent three-point shooter and he attacks the rim with ferocity. It will be interesting to see how quickly he can find a rhythm on the court after being sidelined for a month.
Backcourt: Steph Curry is the heart and soul of the Warriors, but he has been riddled with nagging injuries for several games. The Warriors did drop one game to the Mavericks in his absence, and the Lakers will hope to take advantage in a similar way if he has to sit out tonight. Klay Thompson has had to carry the backcourt in Curry’s brief absence, and he is more than capable of doing so. Thompson was recently quoted that he believes that he is the best shooting guard in the NBA, and he is certainly playing like it.
Thompson is averaging 20 points and shooting 43 percent from beyond the arc. The Lakers will have to keep a defender on Thompson at all times, because he is liable to have a scoring explosion. He scored 37 points in one quarter last season and earlier this season, he scored 27 in one quarter. This is a guy who can change a game with his scoring, but the Warriors play so well as a unit that he finds his openings within the flow of the offense.
Keys To Victory:
Strong Start: The Lakers finally started a game strong against the Phoenix Suns and they ended up leading by 38 points at one juncture of the game. It is very unlikely that they can get that big of a lead over the best team in the NBA, but a strong start is necessary for the Lakers to keep the game competitive. With a strong start, the young guys will play with more confidence and will sustain good energy throughout the game.
Three-Point Defense: The Warriors can get extremely hot from beyond the arc extremely fast. They swing the ball around the perimeter and get high percentage three-point shots, so the Lakers need to guard the three-point line closely and limit open shots. If the Lakers can stop the Warriors from making threes, they will likely have a chance to keep the game competitive and hopefully steal one from the defending champs.
Have Fun: The Lakers look like they are having a lot of fun over the course of their three-game winning streak. It has been such a long time since the Lakers have had such success, so they should embrace this moment while it’s here. It is unlikely that the Lakers can top the Warriors, but if they play loose and confident, they may be able to surprise some people.
Los Angeles Lakers (8-27) vs. Golden State Warriors (32-2)
7:30 P.M. PST, January 5, 2016
Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
TV: TWC SportsNet
Radio: 710 ESPN (English)/ 1330 (Spanish)
Warriors Projected Starting Lineup:
PG: Steph Curry
SG: Klay Thompson
SF: Andre Igoudala
PF: Draymond Green
C: Andrew Bogut
Key Reserves: PG: Shaun Livingston, SF: Harrison Barnes, SG: Brandon Rush
Lakers Projected Starting Lineup:
PG: Jordan Clarkson
SG: Lou Williams
SF: Anthony Brown
PF: Larry Nance Jr.
C: Roy Hibbert
Key Reserves: PF: Julius Randle, SF: Nick Young, PF: Brandon Bass