5 Takeaways from Lakers-Warriors Game: The 7-8 matchup in the West for the play-in was one that nobody will forget anytime soon. Stephen Curry drilling tough shots left and right. The toughest shot of the night by LeBron James dropping through the net to lift the Lakers to a victory. Tough defense all-around, and a game that we all wish could become a seven-game series.
Personally, this is the most fun I have had watching basketball in May in a few years. This is the most fun Lakers game I can remember since Anthony Davis’ winner against Denver last year in the conference finals, they had some battles with Miami, but none like this.
There are five takeaways I have that I’d like to share from the game. Enjoy.
1) If His Body Holds Up, LeBron Can Play Forever
Even though he missed 27 of 42 games this year, LeBron James was a difference maker for the Lakers. The team went 30-15 when he played, but won only 12 of 27 games he missed. This shows how much value he still has, now in his eighteenth NBA season. Having gotten hurt against the Pelicans three days before the Warriors game, it was hard to tell if he’d be able to hold up.
But, that’s exactly what happened. And not only did he log 34:51 and post a triple-double, LeBron hit the three that gave the team the lead inside of a minute. They were lucky that Jordan Poole missed an open look on the other end, but that takes nothing away from the King. A terrific shot in a critical moment.
Very few times do 36-year-old NBA players shine brightest in the playoffs. We’re seeing that from Chris Paul in Phoenix. And LeBron, of course. Kobe Bryant (RIP), had he been healthy, would have been doing similar things in his heyday.
LeBron is incredible. He could truly play forever if he stays healthy.
2) Stephen Curry Truly is Incredible
If a player is double-teamed from start to finish, he will probably have a lot of turnovers, and very few points. Not in the case of Stephen Curry. In 40:37 on the court, Curry finished the game with 37 points on a highly efficient 12-23 from the floor (6-9 from three). He grabbed seven rebounds, and dished out three assists. And yes, he had six turnovers, but he was facing crazy pressure.
We know how good Steph is. He had some wild scoring games this year. But, coming into the year we didn’t know what to expect. Playing without Klay all season, he has continued to amaze and prove his talent. Now 32 years of age, he has one more chance to get the Dubs back to the playoffs.
3) Warriors Effort Was Nothing Short of Excellence
So what if the Warriors had several key guys out. No Kelly Oubre Jr.? No Damion Lee? Klay not available, and you only have one actual center? None of it matters. They will still battle every team to the whistle. And that is exactly what they did.
Even though Anthony Davis had an incredible fourth quarter, he had to work for everything he got. Draymond Green shot 0-5 from the floor, while turning it over six times. But in 41:22 on the floor, he had an even +0 net rating, posting nine rebounds, eight assists, three steals and three blocks. Let’s also remember he concedes five inches to AD.
Jordan Poole and Juan Toscano-Anderson both provided excellent minutes off the bench. Poole played 26 of the final 36 minutes after sitting out the entire first quarter. GS blocked eight shots. They held the Lakers to 10-31 from deep.
The reason they ultimately lost, was turnovers. They committed 20, to L.A.’s 11. Up by three inside of three minutes with the ball, Alex Caruso forced Curry into a turnover, and then the Lakers came right back.
The effort was incredible for a short-handed, under-sized team. The world knows your struggle and talent, Warriors.
4) The Lakers Still Run the West(?)
If you didn’t know, the Lakers odds of winning the 2021 NBA Championship were set at +400 coming into the play-in. That puts them behind only the Nets, and gives them the best odds of any team in the wild, wild west.
That seemed foolish on the parts of odds makers. Yes, they have two superstars, but they missed a combined 63 games this season. But watching the two of them last night, it’s pretty clear how dynamic they can still be. Davis was unstoppable down the stretch, while LeBron stepped up for his team at the perfect time.
And even though they beat a team that finished with the eighth best record in the conference last night, they showed what they can do. Not many teams have the size to defend both AD and LeBron, which is what made them so dangerous last year. And once again, the third man, Alex Caruso, had himself a game.
Though he missed six of his final seven shots, Caruso shot 6-12, finishing with 14-3-2, adding three steals and a block on the defensive end. He is invaluable to this team, and his effort against Curry in crunch time is a big reason the team was able to get the win.
5) LeBron vs Curry is Still a Hot Ticket
Not that it was ever in doubt, but the matchup of LeBron vs Steph is still incredible. They met in four NBA Finals. And seeing them get together for a meaningful, high stakes game again was just what we all needed as basketball fans. And as a Cavaliers fan, I was able to enjoy the Curry magic without being stressed, finally.
Curry can hit shots from anywhere on the floor, as we were again reminded watching the step back to close the first half. And even in his older age, LeBron is still clutch and durable. He can make the smart passes to set his guys up. The man can play at a high level, anytime. And now that he is fully healthy, everyone should be scared.
It really is too bad that these teams probably won’t meet again this year. If we had a #7 vs #8 Western Conference Finals, we would. But the road to get there is a tough one. And, the Dubs still have to beat Memphis to punch their ticket.
Last night felt like a 7-game series. It had all the same emotions, despite taking place inside of a 48-minute window. Curry did his thing. LeBron came up clutch. It was a great night for hoop fans.
The Other Guys
Andrew Wiggins poured in 21 points for the Warriors, shooting an effective 10-18. Kevon Looney had 10 points, 13 rebounds (5 off.) and two blocks in 24 minutes. Kent Bazemore buried three triples.
Dennis Schroder shot just 3-14 from the floor, finishing with 12 points and five assists in 30 minutes. He was a -20. KCP shot just 3-5, but hit a few threes and played tremendous D. Andre Drummond logged 16:45, ending with four points, seven rebounds and two blocks.
The biggest surprise was Wesley Matthews, who has not been good this year. Frank Vogel gave him 14 minutes of action in the 2H and he was a +17 on the floor. He played lockdown D.