The Los Angeles Lakers opponent to make it into the postseason tournament has been decided. It’s the Golden State Warriors. Here’s an early look at the Lakers’ matchup in the NBA’s play-in tournament out West.
When: Wednesday, May 18
Time: 7 p.m. local time
Where: Staples Center
Opening line: Lakers are 6.5-point favorites
All-time series: Regular season -- 257-169. Playoffs -- 24-11.
Jan. 18 – Warriors 115, Lakers 113
Feb. 28 – Lakers 117, Warriors 91
March 15 – Lakers 128, Warriors 91
Lakers head coach Frank Vogel on matchup: “Obviously they have championship pedigree, with Draymond (Green) Steph (Curry) and Coach (Steve) Kerr. I’m really impressed with their defensive performance throughout the course of the year. They’ve got a top-5 defense and obviously Steph is playing out of this world. So, it’s going to be a big challenge, but one our guys are up to.”
LeBron James on matchup: “We’re playing versus the MVP in the league in my opinion in Steph (Curry), so we’ve got to be prepared for everything that they have. They have championship DNA as well. They’ve been there. They know what it takes, and what it feels like to be in pressure games, so we’ve got to be ready for that opportunity and for that pressure.”
Projected starting lineup
Point guard: Dennis Schröder vs. Steph Curry
Stats: Schroder (15.4 ppg, 5.8 apg, 3.4 rpg.). Curry (32 ppg., 5.8 apg., 5.5 rpg.)
Schroder served as the engine of L.A.’s offense during the time James and Anthony Davis were out due to injuries. But he missed 11 games because of the league’s health and safety protocols. Curry won the league’s scoring title and averaged a league-best five made three-pointers per game.
Shooting guard: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope vs. Kent Bazemore
Stats: Caldwell-Pope (9.7 ppg., 2.7 rpg. 1.9 apg). Bazemore (7.2 ppg., 3.4 rpg., 1.7 apg.)
Caldwell-Pope will be relied on for his spot-up shooting and defensive energy. And he has playoff pedigree, playing well in the postseason last year during L.A.’s championship run. Bazemore averaged 6.5 points per game in eight postseason playoff series.
Small forward: LeBron James vs. Draymond Green
Stats: James (25 ppg., 7.8 apg., 7.7 rpg). Green (7 ppg., 8.9 apg., 7.0 rpg.)
James is the unquestioned leader of the Lakers. However, he missed 27 games this season with a high-ankle sprain that he appeared to tweak in the final game of the regular season. At 36 years old, James’ health is concerning. Green serves as the glue guy for Golden State who makes winning plays.
Power forward: Anthony Davis vs. Andrew Wiggins
Stats: Davis (21.8 ppg., 7.9 rpg. 3.1 apg.) Wiggins (18.6 ppg., 4.9 rpg., 2.4 apg.)
After missing 30 straight games with a right calf strain, Davis has played well of late, averaging 28 points and nine rebounds his last five games. Wiggins could pose problems for Los Angeles with his shooting from the perimeter and ability to get buckets driving to the basket.
Center: Andre Drummond vs. Kevon Looney
Stats: Drummond (11.9 ppg., 10.2 rpg., 1.4 apg.). Looney (4.0 ppg., 5.3 rpg., 3.0 apg)
Drummond’s averaged a double-double in 21 games for the Lakers this season. Looney provides a defensive and rebounding presence inside for the Warriors.
The Lakers can go 13-deep, with Montrezl Harrell (13.5 points per game), Kyle Kuzma (12.9 points per game), Talen Horton-Tucker (9.0 points per game) and Ben McLemore (8.0 points per game) all scoring threats off the bench. Alex Caruso and Marc Gasol provide defensive energy and ball distribution on offense. Jordan Poole is averaging 12 points a contest off the bench for the Warriors.
Coaching: Frank Vogel vs. Steve Kerr
Vogel won his first NBA title as head coach with the Lakers last season. Kerr has won three NBA titles in seven seasons as the head coach of the Warriors.
Prediction: Lakers 106, Warriors 99