Game Preview: Warriors at Lakers

Game Preview: Warriors at Lakers - 10/19/21

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HERE. WE. GO.
The 2021-22 season is here and capping off the NBA’s Opening Night doubleheader will be a Warriors-Lakers matchup in Los Angeles. The Dubs enter the season with intentions on returning to the postseason after narrowly missing out on the playoffs last year when the team went 39-33, not including two defeats in the play-in tournament that cost them a playoff berth. One of those play-in losses was a 103-100 nail-biter to the very Lakers team they’ll face on Tuesday night. The Lakers took three of the four head-to-head matchups with the Warriors last season, but each team enters this season with a fresh slate, a re-tooled roster and high standards for a successful season.

PREVIOUS GAME STARTERS
GSW: Stephen Curry, Jordan Poole, Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green and Kevon Looney
LAL: Russell Westbrook, Kent Bazemore, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Anthony Davis

INJURY & ROSTER NOTES
GSW: Jonathan Kuminga (right knee patellar tendon strain), Klay Thompson (right Achilles tendon repair) and James Wiseman (right knee meniscus repair) are out. Team Notes

LAL: Trevor Ariza (right ankle injury), Wayne Ellington (strained left hamstring), Talen Horton-Tucker (right thumb injury) are out. Malik Monk (strained right groin) is probable. Kendrick Nunn (sprained right ankle) is questionable. Team Notes

PRESEASON WRAPUP
Five games. Five wins. The Warriors went undefeated in the preseason (5-0) for the first time in 41 years. Stephen Curry, who led the NBA scoring last season, was the league’s leading scorer through the 2021 exhibition slate, scoring 41 points in Friday’s preseason finale to finish with 24.5 points per game. Jordan Poole was the team’s leading scorer in three of the five preseason games, including a 30-point output in Portland on Oct. 4 that saw him connect on seven 3-pointers. Poole figures to assume the starting two-guard role with Klay Thompson not yet ready to return from his right Achilles injury, and the Warriors will surround him with veteran experience of Curry, Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green and Kevon Looney. The Warriors added veterans Andre Iguodala, Nemanja Bjelica and Otto Porter Jr., and with rookies Jonathan Kuminga (No. 7 overall pick in 2021 NBA Draft) and Moses Moody (14th pick), along with Damion Lee, Juan Toscano-Anderson and James Wiseman (when ready) rounding out the roster, the Dubs have a good mix of young and developing talent to go along with veteran experience. Whether that will be enough to make the Warriors title contenders will be decided in time, but a 5-0 start in the preseason offers at least some reason for optimism in Dub Nation for now.


2021 PRESEASON TEAM LEADERS

GSW LAL
PTS: Curry (24.5) PTS: James (18.7)
REB: Looney (5.4) REB: Jordan (7.2)
AST: Green/Igoudala (3.8) AST: Westbrook (5.0)

SEASON-LONG SPLASH PARTY????
One of the dominant storylines behind the Warriors’ 5-0 preseason was the team’s effectiveness from 3-point range. The Warriors shot (266) and made (92) more 3-pointers than any other team in the preseason, and their 53.2 treys attempted per game was 15 more than their 2020-21 regular season output. The 2018-19 Rockets averaged 45.4 3-pointers per game, which is the most in NBA history, so while the Dubs’ 3-point hoisting in the preseason will get reset to zero come Opening Night, it won’t be a surprise if they rely a little more on the 3-ball than they have in recent seasons. And the Warriors have the shooters to justify that as well. Of course, Stephen Curry enters the season 141 treys behind Ray Allen’s all-time 3-pointers record (2,973). Curry, Jordan Poole and Otto Porter Jr. all averaged over three made 3-pointers per game in the preseason, and Porter did so while shooting 55 percent from distance, and Nemanja Bjelica is a big who can stretch the floor, hitting 44.4 percent of his 3-point attempts during the preseason. Oh, and then there’s Klay Thompson, who will certainly boost the team’s potency from deep when he returns to action.

L.A. LAKERS SCOUTING REPORT
The Lakers enter Tuesday’s season opener coming off a first-round playoff exit at the hands of the eventual Western Conference Champion Phoenix Suns. The Lakers made the signature roster move of the summer with acquisition of nine-time All-Star Russell Westbrook, one of several veteran additions for the 2020 NBA Champions. Of course, success for the Lakers will largely be dependent on the play of LeBron James and Anthony Davis. James, a four-time NBA Champion and 17-time All-Star, is entering the 19th season of his career, and will be looking to bounce back from a season in which he played a career-low 45 games. Anthony Davis also dealt with his share of injuries during the 2020-21 season, including a groin injury suffered in the playoffs. Now with a re-tooled roster, the Lakers have high hopes for a successful season. But they did have a winless preseason, and the Warriors will look to make that trend continue to start the regular season.

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