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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Lakers-Warriors Preview - 28-Dec-08

This is the first meeting between the Lakers (24-5) and Golden State Warriors (9-22) this season. The Lakers have won 13 of their last 16 games against the Warriors. They split their four regular games last season 2-2. They last played on March 24, 2008 at the Oracle Arena in Oakland. The Lakers won 123-119. But we couldn't use their last season's record match-up to predict this game's winner as the Warriors is now a completely different team with the departure of Baron Davis, who went to the Lakers' hometown neighbor, LA Clippers, and the trade of Al Harrington to the New York Knicks for Jamal Crawford. Plus, Monta Ellis is still out with ankle injury.

Davis, Ellis and Harrington combined for an average of 57.8 points in their 4-game series with the Lakers--that's more than half of their teams' average of 113.8 points scored against their downstate rivals. The trio scored 62 and 63 total points in their two wins against the Lakers last season. Where would the Warriors get those scoring contributions? From Jamal Crawford? Maybe! Crawford just had a breakout game, scoring 50 points in their 110-103 win against the Charlotte Bobcats last week.

The current Golden State lineup is a typical Don Nelson's small-ball, free-wheeling, offensive team. And they went even smaller after they sent forward Harrington to the Knicks for guard Crawford, who's now playing as their starting point guard while Ellis recovers from ankle injury. Crawford is averaging 19.3 points, 4.9 assists, and 1.1 steals in 16 games in Warriors uniform this season. He missed last night's game against the Celtics due to groin injury. But he is expected to play tonight's game.

The Warriors were coming from a stunning victory against the Boston Celtics at the Oracle Arena in Oakland. Stephen Jackson returned to their starting lineup and scored eight straight points during the decisive fourth-quarter stretch to finish with 28, and the Warriors sent Boston to back-to-back losses for the first time this season by rallying past the Celtics 99-89. The Warriors won 5 straight and was 12 of 15 against the Celtics at home.

The Lakers have had some difficulty playing against small teams with quick guards who can penetrate inside. Would Crawford get inspired by his game against Bobcats and his team's win against the Celtics without him in the lineup to score another upset?

I don't think so! First, Jamal Crawford has had difficulty scoring against the Lakers team. He only averages 15.8 points in his last 13 games against the Lakers. The Lakers are no Bobcats! They won't allow anybody to drop 50 on them. Not even Dwayne Wade, whom they allowed to score 35 points in one of their losses. That game would probably be the last time they would allow an opposing player score 35 or more points on them. Well, at least before they visit Lebron James and his Cavaliers on February 8 next year.

Also, the Warriors front-court wouldn't be able to match up against the Lakers big men. 6'11" Andris Biedrins only averages 6 points and less than 7 boards in 13 games against the Lakers. 6'9" Brandan Wright was also ineffective, scoring just 6 and 0 points in his last two games against the Lakers. Would Nelson start 6'5" Kelenna Azubuike at small forward with 6'8" Stephen Jackson at power forward? Or maybe former Laker, 6'10" Ronny Turiaf with 4.2 points per game. Maybe he could use Turiaf's 2.2 blocks per game to stop 7-footers Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum.

But hey, didn't the small-lineup Heat, playing like David, beat the the Giant Lakers? I'm sure Don Nelson has been spending nights watching and analyzing that game. He'd want to be the next David to defeat Goliath.

Only that Phil Jackson and his coaching staff are doing the same watching and analyzing. I'm sure they've learned already from that game.

I hope...

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Anonymous said...

The Warriors were coming from a stunning victory against the Boston Celtics at the Oracle Arena in Oakland.

The Warriors won 5 straight and were 12 of 15 against the Celtics at home.

The Lakers are not the Bobcats!

TLN drinks Verve!