After an impressive season-opening 116-103 victory over the Clippers, the Lakers are in Oakland, CA to face the Warriors at the Oracle Center in their season opener. The Lakers came into the first game of the 2013-14 regular season as an 11-point underdog. Under the bright lights of the Staples Center the Lakers defense, rebounding and bench play was the difference. The Lakers surprised everyone, except themselves.
The Lakers had five reserves score in double-digits while the entire second unit outscored the Clippers 76 -34. Los Angeles made 14-of-29 three-pointers while shooting 45-percent. The purple and gold defensively posted eight steals, six blocked shots and 52 rebounds (18 offensive & 34 defensive). While the season-opening win was a solid team effort for the purple and gold it was only one of 82 games.
The Lakers displayed the type of chemistry, aggression and intensity expected of them now that Lakers fans have seen it that effort will now be expected every night. The Lakers have to win tonight to make their fans believers of game one. The Warriors were the 6th seed in the Western Conference Playoffs in the 2012-13. Golden State beat the Denver Nuggets 4-2 in round one and lost 4-2 to Western Conference Champion San Antonio Spurs.
The Lakers took last season’s series with the Warriors 3-1 and have swept five of the last eight season series. The Lakers have not lost a season series to the Warriors since the 1994-95 season. The posted a 1-2 record against the Warriors in the pre-season. The Lakers are 12 point underdogs tonight. The Warriors are another young, athletic team that wants to get out in transition and run the Lakers off the floor.
Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson have arguably the best 3-point shooting duo in league history with unlimited range. The two knocked down 483 three-point shots! Stephen Curry is the NBA’s best shooter, an underrated ball handler who somehow combines a flair for the dramatic with solid fundamentals. Curry is devastating in transition due to his ability to pull up from anywhere.
Klay Thompson is a lights-out shooter who excels at catching and shooting the ball coming off screens. Thompson, for those that do not know, is one of former Lakers player and now radio color analyst Mychael Thompson’s sons. The Warriors have an effective frontcourt with David Lee & Andrew Bogut. Lee is a solid High-post threat with the ability to score from midrange, high-volume rebounder that struggles to box out.
Bogut is still one of the best all-around centers when healthy. Bogut is a solid rebounder with great vision in the high post and excellent defensive instincts and size to battle in the post. Signing veteran Andre Iguodala at small forward could be a game changer for the Warriors. Iguodala is one of the league’s top wing defenders who can defend all three perimeter positions.
Iguodala is a capable ball handler with good vision who excels in the open court. The Lakers, like every other team in the league will have their hands full with Golden State. The Warriors are excellent at spacing the floor with shooters, executing the pick and roll play, flair screens, double screens and back door screens to free up Stephen Curry or Klay Thompson for a shot.
Defensively the Lakers can not fall asleep on either Curry or Thompson. These two should never be left alone. A good tactic would be to deny Curry the ball full court. It is also necessary to never have a non-athletic player on Curry. It would be wise to back off Iguodala and force him to shoot the corner three.
The Lakers defensively have to get back in transition, stop the ball, trap the pick and roll play, funnel the dribble penetration to the baseline, control the boards and quickly rotate out to open shooters. Offensively, the Lakers need to establish Pau Gasol in the post and allow him to go to work. The purple and gold need excellent ball movement, solid player movement to find a high percentage shots. The Lakers must share the ball, play with energy, intensity and great chemistry and not let the Warriors get into a rhythm shooting three’s or this game could be over quickly.
Lakers: S. Nash, S.Blake, N. Young, S. Williams, P.Gasol
Warriors: S. Curry, K. Thompson, A. Iguodala, D. Lee, A. Bogut
Tip-off: 7:30 PM PST
• Los Angeles: TWC Sportsnet Bill Macdonald & Stu Lantz
• Golden State: CSN Bay (Jim Barnett & Bob Fitzgerald)
• Los Angeles: 710 ESPN (John Ireland & Mychal Thompson)
• Golden State: KNBR 680 (Tim Roye)
• Kobe Bryant (Torn Achilles) Out
• Kris Kaman (Gastroenteritis) Day-to-Day
• Harrison Barnes (Inflamed Left Foot) Out
• Festus Ezeli (Knee) Out
Jeff Little is the host of “The Locker Room” a daily sports talk radio show based out of Los Angeles 6-8 pm PST www.sportsjourney.com Follow on twitter @JeffLittle32, Facebook, Pinterest