For the second series in a row, the Lakers won Game 1 on the road beating the Golden State Warriors, 117-112.
Rather than trying to fight fire with fire and attempt to outshoot the Warriors, the Lakers opted to head to the basket, dominating the paint battle 54-28.
Anthony Davis had arguably his best game of the postseason with 30 points and 23 rebounds. Davis becomes the first Lakers player since Shaquille O’Neal to tally at least 30 points and 20 rebounds in a playoff game.
Things started out rough for the Lakers’ offense as they made just one of their first eight attempts from the field and quickly found themselves down by eight early.
After a timeout however, the team finally started to feed Anthony Davis, who made his presence known all night in the paint. Rui Hachimura backed him up by hitting his patented midrange buckets to help close the gap midway through the first.
On defense, the team’s gameplan revolved around sagging off the likes of Gary Payton II and Draymond Green and turn their focus on actual shooting threats like Steph Curry and Klay Thompson.
After an up and down series against Memphis, Dennis Schröder was the best version of himself in Game 1. He got to the basket, picked Curry’s pocket and helped the Lakers’ bench outscore the Warriors 13-0 to start the game.
Schröder's scoring high against Memphis was 12 points in Game 4; he already has 7 in 7 minutes thus far, including a clean pick of Curry and resulting layup on the other end.— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) May 3, 2023
LAL up 34-33.
The battle of contrasting styles continued the rest of the half with the Warriors converting 13 three-pointers compared to the Lakers one, but the Lakers had 32 points in the paint to just 12 from the Warriors.
At the half, Los Angeles held onto a one-point lead thanks to a late pull-up jumper from LeBron James.
The Lakers were able to create more separation on the scoreboard behind their perimeter looks finally starting to fall in the 3rd quarter. Alongside Austin Reaves, D’Angelo Russell caught fire as he probed the paint and canned multiple jumpers. He scored ten of his 19 points in the quarter, and helped spearhead a a 13-3 run that hushed the Chase Center.
LeBron pushes the Laker lead to 10 ‼️— NBA (@NBA) May 3, 2023
They're on a 13-3 run on TNT.#NBAPlayoffs presented by Google Pixel pic.twitter.com/CY9bjAba5s
One name I haven't mentioned much in this recap is James. He had a quiet night to his standards, but still had 22 points in his 40 minutes of play.
James made his impact felt in the fourth with an emphatic alley-oop from Reaves and chase down block on Curry, but Golden State had one more surge in them going on an 14-0 run to tie the game with just under two minutes left.
Jordan Poole boldy attempted a 28-footer to tie the game but missed. Schröder grabbed the big board with 4.7 seconds left and sealed the win at the line.
They nearly coughed it up, but the Lakers importantly took homecourt away from Golden State and guarantee themselves at least a road split.
Although there were many positives, the Lakers have areas to clean up and had to gut out this win especially given a lukewarm performance from James. This is a testament to Davis’ greatness as he has finally begun to solidify himself as not just the team’s second star but the main star.
This is just one game, however, and Game 2 will see expected adjustments and a response from Golden State. Both teams can play better as can James, who will need to rebound if the Lakers hope to win this series. Fortunately, 20 years of evidence suggests that he will.
You can follow Edwin on Twitter at @ECreates88.