On Tap: Golden State Warriors

Kurt —  March 3, 2006

Record: 25-32 (22-33 Pythagorean), 11th seed in the West (3.5 games back of the Lakers)
Record last 10 games: 3-7
Offensive Rating: 106.2 (17th in the league)
Defensive Rating: 107.1 (19th in the league)

Lakers and the Playoffs: The Lakers are the 8th seed, 1.5 games ahead of Utah charging Sacramento (think about how big that win is now). That’s a slim lead with the two games after this against Detroit and San Antonio.

Don’t look to the draft: Sure, lately the Lakers have been as frustrating as my high school girlfriend, but pulling for them not to make the playoffs to improve the draft position won’t work — the Lakers’ first round pick is gone (unless they fall all the way to the top 10 picks, which is not going to happen). Plus, I’m a Laker fan, I can’t root for them to lose. I just don’t expect them to win now. Against any team, regardless of quality.

MASH Unit report: In an occurrence as predictable as the swallows coming back to Capistrano, it’s crunch time for the season and Barron Davis is injured. I love Barron’s game, but this is one reason I was worried when there was talk of the Lakers going after him. Davis has practiced with the team but is not expected to play tonight.

The other half of the Warrior’s stellar backcourt, Jason Richardson (who has been better than Davis this season, a better +/- and PER), will play and is expected to cover Kobe. On one good ankle — he turned it in a recent game against Utah. That sound you hear is Kobe licking his chops.

The rest of Golden State: In the last 10 games, Richardson has been by far the best Warrior player, with an eFG% of 51.9%, but he has gotten some help from former Laker Derek Fisher (just 47% eFG% however).

After that, there’s not much. Troy Murphy is shooting 43% in the last 10, Ike Diogu is a nice rookie (shooting 52.8% from the floor and grabbing 11.4% of the available rebounds) but he’s also shown some rookie tendencies.

The Lakers coming in: Well, at least one guy enjoyed the Laker game in Portland.

Kobe’s fighting a head cold and sinus infection. I have no idea what’s in the heads of the rest of the team.

Where’s Bynum Been? We’ve been asking why not more Bynum lately. Well, according to John Ireland on his radio show yesterday, it’s because Laker coaches think Bynum is not strong enough on defense and lacks a good grasp of the offense.

About his defense, I’d say his help defense has been good but right now he’s not strong enough to play good man-defense on the bigs he’s asked to cover. That will change in a year or two, as he hits the gym. As for the offense, he does look lost at times, but he’s hustling and no more lost than some other bigs, who will remain nameless.

Keys to a Laker win: This is a game the Laker big men need to take charge — Golden State is weak inside but in previous meetings between these two Adonal Foyle has looked like he’s worth what the Warriors are paying him. Mihm, Kwame, and maybe Cook should have big games.

Same with Ronny Turiaf, currently my favorite Laker. He should get minutes tonight but will need to play some defense on guys who can shoot from the outside and run the floor without picking up fouls.

Golden State likes to run — fifth fastest pace in the league — so the Lakers need to control the pace, slow it down and dominate inside. And play some damn defense.

Do that, plus with Kobe beating a hobbled Richardson a few times, and this can be the win needed to keep the team above .500 before the two games against the NBA Finals favorites.