Game: Golden State Warriors @ Los Angeles Lakers
Time: 10:00 p.m.
Odds: Warriors +5.5, Lakers -5.5
Both the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Lakers begin their respective post-All-Star break schedules with an eye on one thing – the playoffs. The two teams will meet tonight in Los Angeles looking to make progress toward securing a spot in the playoffs as quickly as possible.
The defending NBA champion Warriors will try to move up from the play-in tournament level into a top-six spot in the Western Conference. Moving into the top six secures an automatic berth in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs. A spot in the play-in tournament means at least one do-or-die game for the Warriors. They would like to avoid that.
The Lakers’ objective is straightforward. They just want to earn a spot in the top 10. Currently, the Lakers are 13th out of 15 teams in the conference. They are only two games out of tenth place, which belongs to the Oklahoma City Thunder right now. The Lakers are only 3.5 games out of sixth in the West. Crazier things have happened.
The Warriors went into the All-Star break having lost three of their last four games, including a loss on the road to the Los Angeles Clippers on February 14 that put their defensive issues on full display. Stephen Curry, the team’s star player, was sidelined with an injury and missed all of those games.
Curry will not be able to play again for at least two weeks because of an injury to his left leg. He has been back on the practice court this week for work that does not involve contact. Gary Payton II, acquired at the trade deadline, was brought in for the perimeter defense he provides, but he is expected to miss at least a month of action due to an injury to his hip. Regardless of who is in the Warriors’ lineup, the defense has to improve.
Los Angeles is hopeful that its new look will propel them into the postseason. At the trade deadline, the Lakers were finally able to part ways with Russell Westbrook. The team added Rui Hachimura, D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley, Jarred Vanderbilt, and Mo Bamba to give the Lakers more depth heading into the second half of the season.
LeBron James and Anthony Davis will continue to lead the Lakers on the court, and they will also bear the primary responsibility for maximizing the potential of the team’s newly reconstructed roster. James is averaging 30.0 points, 8.4 assists, and 7.0 rebounds per game. Davis is currently averaging 26.0 points and 12.3 rebounds per game. As a result of a bruised right hand, James was forced to sit out the second half of the All-Star game; however, the injury is considered minor.
The Lakers are just 2-4 SU in their last six games. They are 4-2 SU in their last six games at home against Golden State. The Warriors have won four of the last six against the Lakers, but they are just 2-6 against the number in their last eight games.
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