The Lakers and Warriors have split their two games this season, with each winning on their respective home courts. In their last meeting in Oakland, the Warriors won a thriller, beating the Lakers by two points after Baron Davis made a late three pointer with time winding down in regulation. Davis led the Warrior’s attack with 22 points, joined by Al Harrington who also had 22. Andrew Bynum had a monster game for the Lakers with 17 points and 16 rebounds, taking full advantage of Golden State’s undersized lineup.
Monta Ellis has emerged as one of Golden State’s most reliable players this season, making the leap from solid role player to budding star, posting averages of almost 20 points and five rebounds a night. Still, Davis is the motor that makes the Warrior’s finely tuned engine burn, leading the team in scoring (22 points) and assists (eight). While Golden State leads the league in scoring at almost 111 points per game–thanks in large part to the contributions of these two–they give up 108 points a game–one of the worse defensive figures in the league.
The Warriors have been up and down in recent weeks, dropping important games to Phoenix and most recently, to Houston. Tonight’s game marks the first of a critical home-and-home series for both teams, with the Lakers looking to shore up home court advantage through the Western Conference Finals and Golden State trying to fend off the encroaching Denver Nuggets, currently a game and a half behind them for the eight seed. Although the Lakers have historically owned their northern rivals, without Gasol and Bynum, the L.A. will be forced to play Golden State’s small-ball game in the potential first round matchup.