You can pinch yourself, rub your eyes, rub your eyes, and slap yourself silly Lakers fans. But last night was no dream; that really happened. Months of doubters telling them how bad they’d be (myself included) climaxed in one of those most spirited efforts Lakers fans have seen in a long time. The numbers are astounding: 76 points by the bench, including the final 48. 0 minutes after game time in the fourth quarter by the Lakers starters. 5 players off the bench scoring in double figures. It’s a night fans won’t and shouldn’t forget any time soon.
But the Warriors don’t care. Tonight is an entirely different night. The Warriors style of play is unlike what the Clippers had last night. The Lakers wanted to push the ball last night and the Clippers couldn’t keep up for the most part. The Warriors will revel in that chance. They want to push the ball too. 120 points by either team is not unthinkable.
The Warriors are a squad the Lakers are relatively familiar with as they squared off three times this preseason. That being said, not much can be taken from preseason action. The Warriors are DEEP at the wing as they’ll trot out some trio of Steph Curry, Andre Iguodala, Harrison Barnes, and Klay Thompson with the odd man out being the first off the bench. Kent Bazemore will see rotation minutes after an impressive summer league performance and Toney Douglas is a decent 3rd guard off the bench. The Lakers, who are equally deep if not deeper at the wing, will be tested early and often by the sharpshooting of the Warriors.
In the post, neither team is particularly deep. The Lakers go 4-deep between the power forward and center roles, with Shawne Williams playing a stretch four (and a struggling one) at that. The Warriors have more depth, but not necessarily a lot more talent. Still, Andrew Bogut and David Lee will have to be corralled if the Lakers want to win tonight.
With the Lakers going 11-deep, no player played 30 minutes last night, and Jodie Meeks and Xavier Henry played the most at 26 minutes. No played more than Pau Gasol’s 24 minutes, meaning they are remarkably fresh considering it’s the second night of a back-to-back. With a likely hyped up and energetic Warriors squad waiting in their home opener, the Lakers will need their depth to win the battle of attrition.
X-FACTOR OF THE NIGHT
As I stated before, the Lakers starters will be tonight’s x-factor. The bench carried them to a victory last night, but that’s not to say the starters weren’t productive. But tonight, I suspect D’Antoni might favor his starters a bit more and they’ll need to produce. I wouldn’t be surprised if Chris Kaman started for the struggling Shawne Williams, not simply because he’s struggling, but because he’s a better matchup. We’ll need to see a similar Pau Gasol as we did last night to help stifle the Warriors early.
Even more, if Steve Nash doesn’t play tonight, it’ll be important to see who steps in, whether Jordan Farmar starts at point or maybe Xavier Henry starts on the wing beside Nick Young. Either way, this unit needs to make a statement early.
NUMBER OF THE NIGHT
14. As in the number of 3′s the Lakers made last night. Going against a Warrior squad that also enjoys chucking up a long-range bomb, the Lakers will need to replicate last night’s shooting performance to keep pace with the high-scoring Warriors.
I’ll absolutely man-up and say I was dead wrong last night. While I knew the bench was going to be productive, NO ONE could have predicted that output. Tonight, I’m not so sure we can keep pace with the Warriors. I’ll say the Lakers won because I jinxed them. I’ll do it again tonight. Warriors shoot their way to victory, 115-101.