Three Things to Know: Lakers vs. Warriors - 10/19/21
The Lakers host Golden State in the Western-Conference-season-opening game, set to tip at 7 p.m. on TNT, with the pregame show on Spectrum SportsNet at 6 p.m..
Below are three things to know about the matchup:
The Lakers and Warriors have already met twice in October, albeit in (mostly) meaningless preseason games from which we can’t take too much away. Here’s what we do know from the games on Oct. 8 (GSW 121, LAL 114) and Oct. 12 (GSW 111, LAL 99):
- LeBron James and Russell Westbrook made their preseason debut in the Oct. 8 game, each playing limited first half minutes, and each treating the contest more like a practice than a game. LeBron went 4 for 12 from the field, and Westbook 1 for 7, while combining for eight turnovers. Meanwhile, Steph Curry and Draymond Green were playing in their third straight preseason game, and both were pretty sharp, with Curry scoring 30 points in 28 minutes, and Green finishing +13, second only to Jordan Poole’s +21. Anthony Davis did not play.
- Davis, who poses a considerable problem for the small Warriors, who start Kevon Looney at center but often play Green there and won’t have their biggest option (James Wiseman) healthy for the opener, did play on Oct. 12 in San Francisco. It was his first time on the court with LeBron and Russ (Curry and Green did not play). Davis went 7 for 12 in that game, and while Westbrook had 10 points, 10 boards and six assists, he had five more turnovers and shot 3 for 9 as he continued to find timing with his new teammates.
- Poole was excellent in both games, going for 28 and 18 points, respectively, and giving the Warriors some extra perimeter pop next to Steph that they’ll need even when Klay Thompson eventually returns (December at the earliest). Otto Porter also played pretty well as a backup wing with his new team, and he could share time with Wiggins on LeBron on Tuesday.
- Dwight Howard was a handful for the smaller Warriors in both games, and dominated the first matchup with 23 points, 12 boards, one steal and one block in 24 minutes. GSW tried to defend him with stretch five Nemanja Bjelica, who gives up quite a bit of size and strength. Bjelica would need to hit several threes to even that matchup out, but he went just 1 for 2 from distance.
STARS RAMPED UP IN SAC
The most important thing that could have happened in the preseason for the Lakers was for their three stars to both stay healthy, and get in game shape. Despite the 0-6 record, which is mostly a reflection of missed/resting games and injuries, LeBron, Westbrook and Davis all came through in full health, and with the minutes they felt they needed.
LeBron in particular was terrific in the preseason finale at Sacramento, going for 30 points on 12 of 20 shooting plus six boards and six assists, plus two blocks.
“Nothing he does surprises me,” said Frank Vogel. “He was terrific tonight. Final dress rehearsal for with our group, this new team for opening night. I really liked how he attacked the rim. I like how he took jump shots when the defense gave him. Too much space, and made them pay over the top. That’s something he’s really done really well over the past few years and just a great performance overall.”
Westbrook also had his best of three games, scoring 18 points on 7 of 12 FG’s with five assists, three steals and three boards. Davis had a rare off night, hitting only 5 of 18 attempts for 14 points with 12 boards, but he looked good physically in his build up to Tuesday.
We know that Talen Horton-Tucker and Trevor Ariza will be out for a bit, but there are three other Lakers that suffered minor injuries in the preseason:
Malik Monk (right groin strain)
Kendrick Nunn (right ankle sprain)
Wayne Ellington (left hamstring strain)
After Monday’s practice, Frank Vogel provided an update:
Wayne Ellington (hamstring) will be out for Tuesday’s opener, Kendrick Nunn (ankle) questionable, and Malik Monk probable.— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) October 18, 2021
Getting Monk – who was able to practice in full over the weekend – back is certainly important, as the Lakers need that level of shooting from either him or Ellington, if not both. Should Nunn not be able to return, that could open up some minutes either for Austin Reaves, who played very well in the preseason, or just-acquired-on-waivers Avery Bradley.
For the Warriors, Thompson is of course out, and he’s joined by 2020 lottery pick James Wiseman (right knee meniscus repair) and 2021 lottery pick Jonathan Kuminga (right knee patellar tendon strain).
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