Warriors May Need to Go Deeper to Repel Lakers


The Golden State Warriors face a tough turnaround from the end of a grueling seven-game bout with the Kings to a much more hyped-up clash with the Lakers.

Stephen Curry put on a heroic, all-time performance to close out Sacramento on Sunday. The 35-year-old superstar finished the game becoming the top scorer in any Game 7 ever with 50 points. If last year’s Finals performance did not fully prove that Curry is one of the greatest players to ever live, then Sunday was just another reminder.

It was awesome to see the NBA community marveling at his superhuman effort to prevent the Warriors’ season from a disappointing end. Curry proved once again that there are levels to greatness, and he reached a new height. If there is anyone that cares about the title defense, it’s him. He showed that during his speech to the team on Saturday before the Warriors’ film study for Game 7.

After an emotional and intense series against the Kings, the Warriors now have to face another California rival. They’ve had just two days to turn the page and prepare as best as they can for LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Co.

The history between the Warriors’ core of Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green and James goes back almost a whole decade. In James’ second stint with the Cavaliers, Golden State and Cleveland met in the Finals for four-straight seasons. The teams and players are much different now in 2023, even if the Warriors’ core has remained the same.

Every one of them are now in different stages of their careers. It is definitely going to be a memorable second-round series, as there are historic players and rivalries involved.

The Size Issues

The Lakers have the personnel that the Warriors have struggled with at times during their past playoff runs. They have elite size that will be able to bother the Warriors on both ends. The Lakers have a completely different roster than the Kings. They have more height, athleticism and length at almost every position.

The Kings were quicker, but the Lakers are more physical. Their new additions Jarred Vanderbilt and Rui Hachimura will certainly make it harder for Andrew Wiggins, who was the biggest wing in the Kings series.

The Lakers took advantage of a smaller Grizzlies team in their first-round matchup. According to Basketball-Reference.com, the starting lineup of Russell, Reaves, James, Vanderbilt, and Davis are a +20.6 per 100 possessions so far. This is coming against a team that was missing important frontcourt players in Steven Adams and Brandon Clarke.

Kevon Looney became the first player since Dwight Howard in 2008 to have three games with 20+ rebounds in a single series. He was dominant against a frontcourt for the Kings that was relatively the same size as him and Draymond. Size is not the only factor that dictates who grabs the most rebounds, but it will be more difficult for Looney to have the same success he had against Sacramento against a bigger frontcourt.

An engaged Anthony Davis will be a problem for the Warriors. They got what ever they wanted on Sabonis and Lyles. It will not be as easy to get to the basket on straight-line drives. They have to get creative in order to get those looks, take more mid-range shots, or draw Davis from the basket. Looney and Draymond will also have to try their best to keep him and Vanderbilt off the glass.

The LeBron Factor

James has played against the Warriors in so many games throughout the years— mostly in the playoffs. He fully understands the Warriors’ most-used offensive sets like the “split action”. The Warriors cannot let James pick apart their offense with his basketball IQ, but that is easier said than done. In past games, James has played the passing lanes very well leading to steals and breakaway dunks.

The Warriors have at least three players that they will be able to throw at James. Wiggins, Draymond and maybe second-year forward Jonathan Kuminga could get a chance. They have always had a group of capable players in guarding James in the past. Harrison Barnes, Andre Iguodala and Kevin Durant had their chances during the four-year Finals runs against the Cavaliers.

According to Basketball-Reference.com, this season is LeBron’s fifth-worst three-point shooting year of his 20 years in the league. He also shot 8/41 from three against the Grizzlies. The Warriors will most likely give him open looks, as it is the lesser evil than having him get to the basket.

In order for LeBron to feel uncomfortable, they should be mixing up their coverages. They must stay dynamic in their defensive schemes.

There is no denying that LeBron elevates his play against the Warriors. There is so much history in this matchup that there is bound to be some extra juice. Even though he is reaching his final years, the 38-year-old legend will have a great series.

A Deeper Rotation?

As mentioned before, the Lakers’ size will force Steve Kerr to change up his rotation to incorporate other players. Kuminga and Anthony Lamb are two players that saw little to no action against the Kings. You can even throw in JaMychal Green, who has been mostly a disappointment this season.

But against the Lakers, these three players could end up finding minutes. If Jordan Poole or Donte DiVincenzo still struggle to find their shot and defend, or if the Warriors are getting hammered on the glass, Kerr might just have to play Kuminga more. Lamb was getting the nod over him throughout the regular season. He played so much over Kuminga that he ended up averaging 19.7 minutes per game. Even Moses Moody provided enough valuable minutes against the Kings that he will find playing time as well.

Kerr has not done the best job in developing the younger players on the roster due to his frigid coaching ideals. They do not get the same amount of leeway as the veterans on this team when it comes to making mistakes. That made it really difficult for Kuminga and Moody to get consistent playing time, even after their promising rookie seasons.

But at this point, the Warriors need bodies in the rotation. They are going to need a spark from one of the young guys in multiple games to pull this one out.

The most points scored in a Game 7? That distinction now belongs to Steph. This Warrior came out to play and piled up the points when it mattered most, and now you can immortalize his history-making performance with this never-before-seen Steph Curry Golden State Warriors Game 7 50 Point Record Bobblehead. Get yours while you can!

Thoughts & Predictions

The TV ratings for this series are going to blow every other second-round series in history out of the water.

Warriors vs. Lakers, Curry vs. LeBron, popular team vs. historically popular team, NorCal vs. SoCal. It has all the makings of a great series between two evenly matched teams led by all-time greats.

As much as we have seen LeBron against the Warriors, this version feels completely new. The irony of the LeBron-Lakers being the antithesis of the Curry-Warriors, with the Lakers’ frontcourt stars facing the Warriors’ backcourt of Splash Brothers is poetic. LeBron and Curry have been the stars that the NBA solar system has revolved around the last decade. No matter what new players, teams, planets and comets have come in orbit, it has always been those two in the center.

It would not be surprising if these two teams end up going blow for blow. It is going to be super interesting with how Darvin Ham coaches against Steve Kerr. The chess match between a first-year head coach and a four-time champion head coach will be fun to take note of as the series progresses.

With so many factors in play, it is difficult to single out a reason why either team will prevail. Curry was asked in the Game 7 postgame press conference, “Who can stop Steph Curry?”. He responded quickly with that classic Steph-like smirk, “I hope we never find out.”

Warriors in 7.

About Christian Oblena

Born in San Francisco, raised in the East Bay, lifelong Bay Area sports fan. Here to give my own opinions on everything Dubs.

    Recommended for you

    Powered by themekiller.com