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Lakers vs. Warriors Preview: A sneak peak at L.A.’s opener

Sunday’s game is the Lakers’ best opportunity before the start of the season to test themselves against a championship-caliber opponent.

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Los Angeles Lakers v Golden State Warriors Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers will be in San Francisco on Sunday to take on the defending champion Golden State Warriors for their fourth of six preseason games. The Warriors, who have found themselves in the headlines over the past two days, will play without Stephen Curry, Klay Thomspon and Draymond Green on Sunday.

While this game will lack the presumable star power of opening night, the Lakers should take advantage of this opportunity to set the tone against Golden State, who have every reason to come into the exhibition distracted.

But before diving into how the Lakers can snag their first victory in 10 preseason games, can we take a second to appreciate the fact that the drama over the past couple of weeks hasn’t been about the Lakers for once?

It certainly feels like a breath of fresh air that we could all get used to.

Speaking of fresh air, the purple and gold might have lost all three of their tune-up games so far, but the product they’ve displayed on the court is already so much better than whatever they displayed last season.

It doesn’t take any high-level analysis to point out that there’s already been a huge improvement in the team’s spacing, offense, defense, pace, and yes, vibes.

This is something the Lakers need to build on.

That’s why Sunday’s game is a great opportunity for the Lakers to test how far they are in terms of their progress on the court. Personally, I’ll be observing the Lakers’ drop coverage-focused defense and how it can keep up with the Warriors’ exquisite motion offense. It’ll also be important to see more of how the Lakers execute their versatile 4-out-1-in offense and produce transition baskets against Golden Sate’s upper echelon defense.

With three preseason games left, the competition for playing time and roster spots (for the rookies and two-way contract signees especially) will be worth keeping an eye on. Can anyone lock down a spot in the rotation alongside LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, and Patrick Beverley?

So far, Kendrick Nunn, Wenyen Gabriel, Austin Reaves and Juan Toscano-Anderson have played well enough to make a case for permanent minutes. It’ll be interesting to see if Lonnie Walker IV, Damian Jones, Thomas Bryant or Max Christie can smooth out bumpy starts, or if Cole Swider, Jay Huff, Scotty Pippen Jr., and Matt Ryan can prove that they deserve a crack at the rotation.

Sunday’s game should give us a clearer picture of that.

Notes and Updates

  • In case you missed the biggest news of the day, Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes reported that the Lakers extended Rob Pelinka’s contract through 2026, aligning his deal with head coach Darvin Ham’s contract. According to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, Pelinka’s extension was inked early in June.
  • The Lakers waived Dwayne Bacon and Javante McCoy today, replacing them with guards LJ Figueroa and Shaquille Harrison on training camp deals.
  • The team also practiced on Saturday before heading to Golden State. Davis, who was sidelined in the past two games due to lower back tightness out of precaution, participated, while Toscano Anderson, who left Thursday’s game against the Minnesota Timberwolves with a right quad bruise, was held out for treatment.
  • The Lakers don’t have any players listed on the injury report for Sunday’s preseason game, but Ham said today in practice that Davis will be re-evaluated and could play against the Warriors. Meanwhile, Dennis Schroder — who didn’t join the team in the first week of training camp due to visa concerns — is now with the squad and will undergo a team physical. Schroder won’t be available for Sunday’s game, but will be able to participate in the rest of training camp and preseason games, starting Monday.
  • On the other side, Warriors veteran Andre Iguodala will join Green, Curry and Thompson on the inactive list. Green announced today that he will be taking an indefinite leave from the team for at least the next few days and his status for opening night against the Lakers remains uncertain.
  • Circling back to the ongoing issue the Warriors are dealing with, the organization is reportedly undergoing an investigation to determine who leaked the video of Green punching teammate Jordan Poole to TMZ. Earlier today, Green addressed the media for the first time after the incident took place, details of which can be found here.

The Lakers and Warriors will tip off at 5:30 p.m. PT on Sunday. The game will be televised locally on Spectrum SportsNet, and nationally on NBA TV.

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

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