The last time the Warriors played the Lakers things did not look great for them. Getting blown out at home on Christmas day is never a good look. During what many considered to be a skid for the Warriors, that loss did not help anything either.
Now the Warriors seem to have corrected the issues that they may have been facing.
The Lakers, on the other hand, are streaky. Fluttering around an even record the Lakers will be eyeing another statement win. This time they will be on their home court.
This game is going to be a time to show Kyle Kuzma’s proclaimed small ball “Death Lineup”, featuring Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram, Kuzma and hopefully LeBron James. They will be squaring off against what many fans have recognized as the original “Death Lineup” with the Warriors. That being Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green.
What to watch for
Obviously, everyone will be watching to see the first big road test in DeMarcus Cousins’ return.
By this point, DeMarcus Cousins should be back and playing again. With a game under his belt beforehand the rust should be shaken off and he will be ready to play. This adds an entirely new dynamic for the Lakers to plan for.
With Cousins coming back it is possible that some players may be switched out. Such as swapping out Kuzma or Josh Hart for a big man. Veteran Tyson Chandler or former Warrior JaVale McGee will be all too eager to match up against Cousins.
The Lakers’ defense will need to step up big time. Not once this season have the Warriors scored less than 100 points. The Lakers also rank toward the middle of the pack on defense, so be looking to see how players step up and if they have any home court advantage.
Not only will this be an intense game for the players, but for the coaching staff as well. Luke Walton held down the Warriors when Steve Kerr was out due to his back surgery. He knows how the Warriors play and how to coach against them, but going against mastermind Steve Kerr is an incredible feat. Watch for how the substitutions work and play style change throughout this game.
If James is going to be sitting this game out as well Walton is going to have to put together an incredible team performance to secure a win.
Why does it matter
This game is more than just a typical regular season game. The Lakers are fighting for a spot in the playoffs. The Warriors are looking to stay atop the Western Conference. This also has potential playoff implications.
The chances the Lakers claim a spot in the playoffs are not terribly high, but should they accomplish that, they will be playing the Nuggets or the Warriors. This game will be used as a benchmark to gauge where the Lakers team is at and what is necessary for them moving forward.
All in all, this is going to be an exciting and flashy game. Especially if we are able to see both DeMarcus Cousins and LeBron James competing.