Technically, I’m on vacation until Sunday. But I just cannot quit you guys. So, here is a quick preview for today’s matchup between the Lakers and the Thunder. Enjoy…
- With the Lakers clinching the #1 seed out west, the “seeding” part of these restart games is over for them. The focus then, should shift from any sort of positioning, to being as strong as they can be for the post season. If i was ranking things I’d like to see in these final 5 games, finding their game legs and figuring out how to make their open 3 pointers would be at the top of the list. Those things can start vs. OKC.
- The Thunder are a team that heavily relies on its starting 5 and 3-guard lineups that are anchored by Chris Paul, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Dennis Schroeder. Unfortunately for OKC, Schroeder is not available after departing Orlando to be with his wife who is expecting a child. Without those 3-guard lineups, then, the Thunder will be even more reliant on SGA and CP3 to generate offense and be the drivers of their attack. This puts a big burden on KCP and Danny Green to defend well, particularly at the point of attack, and for LA’s bigs to be ready to help and, if needed, switch to slow these guys down. If OKC’s guards and get it going, the Lakers could be in for a long night.
- The flip side of this is that the Lakers bench should be able to make some hay vs. the Thunder’s reserves. Vogel has stuck to his routine of staggering LeBron and AD after their start each half together and lineups that feature only one of them should still be able to build a cushion. If OKC does a good job of playing those units even or, worse, winning those stretches, the Lakers starters will have a bigger burden than anyone would like.
- Speaking of the Lakers starters, I’d really like to see JaVale have a breakout game. Steven Adams is a difficult individual matchup, but JaVale can still be effective by running the floor and hitting the offensive glass when Adams is forced to help. JaVale has not shown the same level of activity in the restart games that he had before the shutdown, and with only a handful of games left before the playoffs start, time is running out for him to find his stride.
- This should be a game where both Bron and AD can go off if they’re focused to do so. The Thunder are not deep in players who can effectively defend either and even with Andre Roberson back after a couple years of injury issues, he can’t be expected to stop everyone. Adams and CP3 will both bring top efforts against AD and Bron respectively (when the matchups dictate), but neither are ideal solutions and both can be exploited if the Lakers simply work their specific advantages vs. both.
- I’d like to see the Lakers run a bit more P&R with Bron/AD this game, especially when AD is playing C.
- Can this be the game the Lakers 3-point shooting gets back on track? It’d be nice if it was.
- Keep playing hard, Kuz. The game vs. the Jazz wasn’t his best game, but he played well down the stretch and is clearly earning Vogel’s trust as someone who can effectively close games next to Bron and AD. If Kuz can defend the way he has been on the wing, it opens up so many possibilities for these Lakers to deploy their most balanced lineups that can really make them a matchup nightmare.
Where you can watch: 3:30pm start time on ESPN and Spectrum SportsNet