The Los Angeles Lakers countered with their own devastating blow to the Golden State Warriors on Saturday night, winning 127-97 to take a 2-1 series lead. The blowout came only two days after the Warriors found victory in another lopsided victory just short of 400 miles due north.
These two teams will now play their 4th game in 6 days, in what could end up being the most pivotal game of this series... or at least that’s what the Lakers are hoping for...
It’s all a part of the plan...
If you’ve been watching the Lakers over the course of these 2023 NBA Playoffs, you might be realizing that this conference semi-final series against the Warriors is starting to look exactly like the Lakers’ first round series against the Grizzlies.
The Lakers secured a hard-fought win on the road in Game 1, only to have the desperate home team swiftly bury them in Game 2. Once the series returned home to L.A., the Lakers bounced back in a big way with a convincing Game 3.
Another way this series invokes immediate memories of its predecessor is in Anthony Davis, as he again put on two awe-inspiring performances — especially on defense — with a bit of a dud sandwiched in the middle of them.
Davis scored 13 points in Game 2 of the first round series with only 11 in the Game 2 against the Warriors. His Game 3 against the Grizzlies saw him then score 31, while he scored 25 this past Saturday. His yo-yo offensive play (Davis’ defensive impact, even if lessened, is better than most center’s peak performance) sadly continued in that Grizzlies series, as he had 12 points on 4/13 field-goal shooting in that Game 4.
That was enough to beat the Grizzlies in that series as the Lakers took a 3-1 series lead in that one, however, this is the defending champions we’re talking about here. While the Lakers had some other impactful offensive advantages aside from Davis when playing the Warriors — most notably Austin Reaves and Rui Hachimura — those two and the other supporting cast members have more often than not found themselves stifled against Draymond Green, Klay Thompson, and the other Warriors elite defenders.
There’s an old saying that NBA playoff series doesn’t actually start until a road team wins a game. In a similar sort of sentiment, the Lakers may never actually take control of this series until Anthony Davis finds a way to string together two dominant offensive and defensive performances in a row.
Just as the Warriors have clear advantages against the Lakers out on the perimeter with Stephen Curry, the Lakers have a clear advantage against the Warriors in AD, in the paint on both ends of the court. However, the Lakers have shown in Game 1 that as long as they get that All-NBA AD, they can weather the downpour of Warriors 3-pointers.
The Lakers have to be ecstatic that they still find themselves with a series lead after seemingly giving away Game 2 in The Bay. It’s basically the same path they followed to secure their 2-1 series lead in the last series. They probably won’t be lucky enough to attain a 3-1 series lead in this one with AD not dominating on offense in this one.
Here’s to hoping that AD breaks the pattern, helping the Lakers to avoid letting the Warriors take the momentum back to Golden State for Game 5.
Notes and Updates
- The Lakers injury report looks similar to how it’s looked throughout these playoffs. LeBron James (right foot soreness) and Anthony Davis (right foot stress injury) are both probable. Mo Bamba (left ankle soreness) is questionable. More information on his injury can be found here.
- The same goes for the Warriors’ injury report. Andre Iguodala (left wrist surgery) and Ryan Rollins (right foot surgery) will be out. Patrick Baldwin Jr. (left toe soreness) is questionable.
The Lakers and Warriors will tip off at 7 p.m. PT on Monday evening. The game will be exclusively televised on TNT.
You can follow Donny on Twitter at @donny_mchenry.