The Lakers steal game 1 on the road against the Golden State Warriors Tuesday night, behind forward Anthony Davis’ dominant performance down the floor.
Analysis By Kevin Khachatryan, Staff Writer
Following the 17-time championship team in the Crypto.com arena crushing a 125-85 victory and a 4-2 series win, Los Angeles basketball fans are eager to see the Lakers and Warriors face off in the playoffs for the first time since 1991.
The Lakers need two things to solidify their chance at a championship banner - healthy versions of forwards Anthony Davis, Lebron James and a shooter around them that can space the floor and create their own shot, which is guard D’Angelo Russell who shot 41 percent from deep.
Both James and Davis averaged more than 20 points a game with 10 rebounds. Davis invited the Grizzlies to a block party, swatting a total of 26 blocks through six games in the series, tied for second most in Lakers history.
The closeout game in the Crypto.com arena showed the experience of the Lakers and the talented but inexperienced Grizzlies.
“It was definitely a game 7 mentality for us, “said James after the closeout win. “We were locked in from the start of the play to all the way to the final seconds of the game.”
Since the trade deadline on Feb. 9, the Lakers acquired forwards Jared Vanderbilt and Rui Hachimura and guards Russell and Malik Beasley. The Lakers are tied for fourth with a defensive rating of (102.8) and ninth in defensive efficiency (1.096), according to NBA.com.
The Lakers are structured very deeply and can run a 10-man roster, in which a player has an off night. They have plenty of replacements off the bench who can pick up the slack.
With the emergence of young guard Austin Reeves and the additions of Vanderbilt and Hachimura furthered the possibility of this deep run.
The Lakers and Warriors series sets up the fifth time that Lebron and Curry go head-to-head in a playoff series. Curry leading the way in the matchup 15-7 versus James.
The Lakers have had three days off, while the Warriors went seven games to finish off the Sacramento Kings. Leaving them with only one day of rest. Warriors head coach Steve Kerr pointed out, his team won game 7 at Sacramento two days after losing game 6 at home.
“I think you saw what our older guys are capable of coming off of a 36-hour rest,” Kerr said in a postgame interview after Curry’s epic 50-point performance.
Both Curry and Lebron are looking to capture their fifth ring, with just one player who will remain victorious after this series win. However, the Lakers have an X-factor player who knows the Warriors system and knows how they play, D’Angelo Russell.
The former point guard for the Warriors spent a year and a half with the team but was traded away to the Timberwolves for forward Andrew Wiggins who just won a championship last year for the Warriors. Not having a big role with the Warriors, Russell can catch fire any given night, as he poured in a playoff career-high with 31 points and five three-pointers.
Thanks to his history with the yellow and blue and the knowledge of their playstyle, Russell will be an instrumental asset to the Lakers in this series.
The Lakers stole home court Tuesday night on the road against the Warriors in game 1, as they survived a 117-112 thriller win, escaping a 14-0 run that the Warriors rained from three-point land late, to take a series lead of 1-0.