The Lakers are looking for a haymaker here.
L.A. took Game 1 on the road from Golden State. It was clear what both teams were going for; L.A. decided to be aggressive inside while the Dubs jacked it up from outside.
It worked for both teams. The Warriors made 21 threes and even with the Lakers chasing Stephen Curry all over the place, he still managed to break free when they put him on the ball (although Jarred Vanderbilt was taken out of the game for most of the fourth quarter). In the meantime, Anthony Davis and the Lakers feasted inside. Davis did look fatigued after playing 44 minutes, though.
In the end, Jordan Poole missed a long three-pointer that would’ve tied the game. I thought he could’ve gotten a better shot. A lot of other pundits had no problem with the three. Either way, Poole didn’t make it and the Lakers are up a game on the defending champions.
I expect the Warriors to keep shooting threes but now we’re going to see Curry doing a lot more handling simply so he can have the ball and create his own shots. Vanderbilt did a really good job defending and denying Curry in Game 1. But will the Lakers have enough energy to keep up?
The Lakers lived inside and on the line. I know there are plenty of Warriors fans who talked about the free throw discrepancy but you’re simply not going to get free throws by chucking from behind the line. Lakers attacked the paint and that’s why they got the foul shots.
With that said, I’m not sure if Davis will play 44 minutes again. Maybe 38-40. But let’s see if the Lakers can do well with Davis sitting on the bench. And like I said, he looked like he ran out of gas at the end. Darvin Ham reasoned this was why load management was used but, load management or not, playing 40-something minutes will likely tire out a player.
Will LeBron James do more this time around? LeBron didn’t handle the ball as much and, sometimes, he was just a bystander on the court. He still got some good numbers in Game 1 but this is either a new game plan or a new reality. LeBron is 38 years old, after all.
Warriors do love to go small. And sometimes (all the time?), so does Darvin Ham (to his detriment). Will he try to match the Dubs going small ball again? Or will he try to keep Jarred Vanderbilt more on the court to harass Stephen Curry? A lot of chess will go on in this series.
In this case, we’ll see who ends up being the rook. Game 2 will be fire.