After a loss to the Kings on Thursday, the Lakers are now 2-3 in the preseason. Thursday’s game saw a fantastic offensive performance from D’Angelo Russell undone by bad defense across the board. The Lakers couldn’t contain dribble penetration, didn’t tag cutters, had slow rotations back to the 3 point line, and gave up open jumpers all over the floor. Luke Walton said the team just didn’t have good defensive energy which was a nice way of putting things.
That defensive intensity will, of course, be even more tested tonight against the Warriors. I don’t need to go into how good they are on that end, their personnel makes it obvious. Anytime you add Kevin Durant to a team, you are going to thrive on offense. When you add him to a team with Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green, you are going to demolish teams on that end of the floor.
The Lakers are not going to stop this team tonight. That said, they can do some things to make the Warriors’ lives more difficult. They will need to communicate well, switch when necessary, rotate hard to the 3 point line, and help the helper. The Warriors will still score against these tactics, but what I am looking for is good effort and sticking to the scheme as outlined by the coaches. In other words, the Lakers need to focus on process and try to execute every possession. If the results don’t come, you live with that. The Warriors are going to have a season of gaining their own results regardless of their process, but based on their quality of coaching, they will also have fantastic process.
Tonight, then, I couldn’t care less about a win or a loss. Even if a win would be great for confidence and to reward a team working hard to improve, my focus is still on doing the little things better and having the team make the small, yet important, strides forward which help establish their program and who they want to be over the long haul.