(Photo By: Ty Nowell/Lakers.com)
Lakers vs. Warriors: 3 Things to Know (11/29/17)
Here is what you need to know before the Lakers take on the champion Golden State Warriors.
1) Balancing the frontcourt is near the top of Luke’s priorities
Luke Walton has four frontcourt players at his disposal who all have a case for big minutes — Larry Nance Jr., Brook Lopez, Kyle Kuzma and Julius Randle.
Walton has elected to pair Nance and Lopez among the starters, while Kuzma and Randle come off the bench. But as the game goes on, it will become trickier to choose his combinations based on their varying skill sets.
Nance is a notable defender who works hard on the glass. Lopez is capable of posting up and shooting 3-pointers. Kuzma is the team’s top scorer, thanks to his driving and shooting. Randle is tough to keep out of the paint and can cover both guards and bigs.
But each also has his drawback.
Nance and Randle provide minimal shooting and spacing. Lopez’s 3-point stroke has been icy to start the season (30.9 percent). Kuzma is prone to rookie-typical lapses on defense.
It, of course, is Walton’s job to weigh each player’s strengths against his weaknesses. Doing so on the fly in the middle of games is the challenge.
2) This is KCP’s moment on stage
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope provided the Lakers a firestorm on offense in their last game.
The 24-year-old poured in 29 points thanks to five 3-pointers and a handful of mid-range pull-ups for his highest scoring output of the year.
But this time, the Lakers will ask for his best on the defensive end.
Caldwell-Pope is one of the NBA’s best off-ball defenders, which has made him one of the few players capable of giving problems to two-time MVP Stephen Curry.
With his indefatigable motor and defensive instincts, KCP is by far the Lakers’ best option to navigate Golden State’s maze of screens and bother Curry as much as possible.
Also seventh in the NBA in deflections (3.1 per game), Caldwell-Pope’s defense will also be counted upon to create crucial fast-breaks.
KCP finishes with a team-high 29 points, connecting from deep five times against Los Angeles. pic.twitter.com/JYHUJJWsqJ— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) November 28, 2017
3) Transition play will be even more important
The Lakers are the NBA’s second-highest scoring team on fast-breaks, averaging 15.2 points per game. But Golden State is miles ahead of everyone, racking up 23.1 points.
It will be vital for the Lakers to capitalize on their own breaks and limit (as much as possible) the Warriors on theirs.
Of the league’s top four scorers on fast-breaks, three are Warriors: Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson. That trio of firepower (plus Draymond Green) is why Golden State is the undisputed title favorite, but two of them (Curry and Durant) may not play against the Lakers due to injuries.
Meanwhile, the purple and gold will have to cut down on their transition turnovers in order to exploit one of Golden State’s few weaknesses, as the Warriors surrender the second-most fast-break points in the league (14.2).
Expect a fast-paced game, as the Lakers look to hand the defending champs a loss at STAPLES Center for the fourth year in a row.
Warriors: Stephen Curry (right hand contusion) and Kevin Durant (sprained left ankle) are questionable.
Tip-Off: 7:30 p.m. PT
TV: Spectrum SportsNet and Spectrum Deportes in L.A. NBA TV nationally.
Radio: 710 ESPN and 1330 KWKW
Location: STAPLES Center — Los Angeles, California