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Lakers vs. Warriors Preview: Who is even going to play tonight?

The Lakers enter their preseason re-match with the Warriors a little dinged up, so this game may feature some wacky lineups, even for an exhibition game.

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NBA: Preseason-Los Angeles Lakers at Golden State Warriors Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Due to a strange quirk in scheduling, the fourth preseason game for the Los Angeles Lakers will actually be their first one at home in Staples Center. The team has played two games in China and one game to break in the brand new Chase Center with the Golden State Warriors, but none within the friendly confines of their actual home arena.

That is set to change tonight, but the team that takes the floor for the Lakers is likely to be very different than the one that fans are so excited about heading into the year.

The first variable will be whether or not Anthony Davis even plays. Davis is scheduled to get an MRI on his sprained thumb today, and the results will determine not just his availability for Monday night’s game, but also how long he’ll be out moving forward. Expect the Lakers to utilize an abundance of caution, especially considering that this is just the preseason.

If Davis sits out, the Lakers may be tempted to rest LeBron James as well, given that he’s played in all three games so far and doesn’t really have a whole lot of reason to play if it’s not to help him and Davis continue to develop chemistry. Yes, James’ other teammates are important, but he’s dished to shooters and thrown lobs his whole life. The only real variable here for him is how much better he and Davis can make each other, and if they can’t work on that, it may not make much sense to play the 34-year-old star considering all the travel the Lakers just went through (more on that in a minute) and the fact that they have two more games over the next four days.

Update: That’s exactly how things played out, as Davis is fine but the Lakers will rest both stars.

The last we saw of Kyle Kuzma, he had graduated to jumping while shooting around pregame, and is expected to get a medical update on Monday, but whether he’ll play or not is still unknown. He’s not the only other Laker with an uncertain injury status heading into Monday, as plenty of other members of the roster were dealing with their own various levels of maladies prior to the team’s last game:

And if all that wasn’t enough to ensure that Lakers head coach Frank Vogel sort of throws in the proverbial towel on an ultimately meaningless game and gives the G League guys a bunch of run in this one, there is also the reality that the Lakers only returned from an approximately 13,728-mile, round-trip jaunt back-and-forth from China over the span of days on Sunday morning due to a flight delay. The team may be a little jet-lagged from the 15-hour time difference, in addition to coping with other stressors from what was a powder keg of a trip.

Even if those guys aren’t your cup of tea — in which case I sort of question why you’re reading this blog — and you were just hoping to see Stephen Curry, Draymond Green or the latest return to Los Angeles of former Laker D’Angelo Russell, bear in mind that the Warriors have similar walking wounded vibes going on, and are sitting a couple of their players who aren’t injured already:

The last time the Lakers played the Warriors, they led end to end so dominantly that their social media team felt the need to fire off a “warning” to the NBA. This time, those tuning in should consider this a warning of a different kind: Everyone could play, and this game could surpass expectations to be totally fun and crazy, but it also is likely to be even more meaningless than a normal preseason game. Get ready to avert your eyes and/or spend some of the precious time remaining before the regular season with your family if a bunch of the normal rotation players get ruled out or load managed tonight.

The Lakers play the Warriors on Wednesday and Friday too, and there is seemingly a better chance we see closer to both of the real versions of these teams on those nights. If you still want to tune in, tonight’s game starts at 7:30 p.m. PST, and the game will be televised locally on Spectrum Sportsnet. We’ll get a better sense of just who will be on that TV in the next few hours, and update this post with that info as it becomes available to us.

For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.

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