Warriors

Healthy Lakers worst possible play-in matchup for Warriors

Warriors

There is no sugar coating it. A healthy Los Angeles Lakers squad might be the most difficult possible matchup for the Warriors right now.

Good health is the major caveat to any discussion on how the two teams will fare against each other, but as it appears, the Lakers have nursed their injuries and are back to full strength entering the play-in tournament. 

Meanwhile, the Warriors are playing their best basketball of the season, coming into the game at Staples Center on Wednesday riding a six-game win streak, having won 15 of their last 20 games. Steph Curry has been playing the best basketball of his future Hall of Fame career, Draymond Green has been a destructive force on both sides of the ball, and Andrew Wiggins is producing at a high level. They have been using a very abbreviated eight-man rotation, after they lost James Wiseman for the season, and then the extended absences of Kelly Oubre Jr. and Damion Lee as well. 

The rotation has been highly successful in using smaller lineups to overwhelm the opponent on defense and then picking up the pace on offense in transition and ball movement. Kevon Looney is the only "true" center in the lineup currently, though at 6-foot-9 he is still undersized against the premier big men. Green has played the de facto center otherwise, producing great results with Juan Toscano-Anderson playing power forward alongside him. These combinations helped the Warriors blast some lesser opponents, and surprise a few great ones.

 

However, the Dubs are about to face a team that is bigger and deeper than any other in the league. The Lakers employ a starting lineup with the 6'9 LeBron James, and 6'11 big men in Anthony Davis and Andre Drummond. Off the bench, LA has Montrezl Harrell, Marc Gasol, Markieff Morris and a large wing in Kyle Kuzma.

After Looney, the next tallest player on the Warriors is the 6'7 Wiggins. The Lakers are massive, and the Warriors simply do not have the roster to match their size. Of course, the size disparity will be most apparent in rebounding, so the Warriors will have to do everything in their power to gang rebound and swarm the highly talented offensive rebounders in Drummond, Davis and Harrell. 

RELATED: Steph ending strange struggles at Lakers key for Warriors

By helping in the interior and clogging the lanes to prevent James from living in the paint, the Warriors will have to concede some open shots from deep, and hope players like James, Schroder, Caldwell-Pope, Caruso and others have a cold shooting night.

On offense, the Warriors will have to do their best to take advantage of the Lakers' size, and that means speeding up the game and running in transition as much as possible, and even more importantly, trying to get their bigs matched up on the outside against Curry.

Green, and Looney, will come up to set high-ball screens or quick dribble handoffs, which will test the Lakers' bigs like Drummond to step up to the 3-point line, or stay too far sagged into the paint. Either way, it should allow Steph to feast, or open up Green to receive a pass off the Curry double team, and allow him to create. 

The same will go for Jordan Poole, who has been great in the last five games, averaging over 20 points per game. The more the ball is in his hands, and screens are set for him at the top of the key, the more comfortable Poole will be. Wiggins will have to stay as aggressive as he has been over the last few weeks, and constantly attack the rim to open up the rest of the floor for Warriors shooters like Kent Bazemore and Mychal Mulder. 

The Warriors will have to bring their A-game to defeat the Lakers, and simultaneously LA simply will have to underperform. However, if the Dubs are able to win Wednesday, then the league should officially be put on notice that Curry and Co. are for real, and very dangerous.

Download and subscribe to the Dubs Talk Podcast