Oh, that’s right. There’s a game today.
In the wake of Mike Brown’s firing, there have been bigger things on the minds of everyone but the Lakers do resume game action tonight with a contest against the Dubs. Bernie Bickerstaff will coach in Mike Brown’s stead tonight and, as Mitch Kupchak intimated, he’s likely to throw a more simplified game plan against the wall and see what sticks.
What that means for the Lakers remains to be seen. Remember, the team still doesn’t have Steve Nash so simply saying “run a bunch of P&R’s” isn’t necessarily the best plan of action on offense. Sure, Kobe can facilitate in those types of actions but he’s been shooting well over 50% on the season using the actions of the Princeton to get into good positions to score. So, in that respect, it will be interesting to see what the Lakers do on offense tonight.
I can be sure that Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol should be featured in the post against the Warriors big men. Andrew Bogut is the Dubs’ best defensive big but he’s sidelined for 7-10 days with soreness in his surgically repaired ankle. That leaves David Lee, Carl Landry, Andris Biedrins and Festus Ezeli as the primary bigs left to guard the post. All are capable (some more than others) in providing solid D but they should be attacked nonetheless to make them defend the paint and protect the rim.
Moving away from offense, where the Lakers really need to show some life is on the defensive side of the ball. The Warriors offer a slew of quality wings and several high quality shooters that will need to be slowed down. Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Harrison Barnes are all capable of knocking down shots and the Warriors will look to free them on the wing via cross screens, pin downs, and off ball actions of all varieties. The Lakers need to be prepared to work off the ball defensively and run at shooters to make them put the ball on the floor and attack the paint against the team’s superior size.
The battle of the benches will also be huge tonight. Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry anchor a Warriors reserve unit that shows no fear even when matched up against opposing team’s starters. Both will need to be accounted for throughout the game and don’t be surprised if both close this game out should the game be somewhat close down the stretch.
All that said, as much as it’s the Warriors on the other side of the floor tonight this game is much more about what the Lakers bring to the table this evening. Their coach has been fired. In situations like this, teams typically rally around each other and put forth a big effort to try and get a win. The schemes will matter but even more so is the effort they play with on both sides of the floor. Will they defend with energy? Will they push the ball and try to punish their opponent in the half court the way they’re capable of?
The answers to these questions will determine who wins this game. The Lakers, at this point, need this one. Here’s hoping they do what’s needed.