Basketball

2021 NBA Play-In Tournament: Los Angeles Lakers vs Golden State Warriors Game Preview

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The NBA Play-In tournament will begin tonight, with the Indiana Pacers vs the Charlotte Hornets and the Boston Celtics vs the Washington Wizards.

One of the most anticipated matchups is the Los Angeles Lakers vs the Golden State Warriors. Another postseason matchup for LeBron James and Stephen Curry, two of the all-time greats.

The game will be played at the Staples Center with the winner facing the Phoenix Suns in the first round of the playoffs.

The Lakers are undoubtedly the favorites to win the game, they are one of the favorites to win the Championship. The Warriors haven’t had a great season and lost twice to the Lakers without Anthony Davis.

However, the danger of this format is it is just a one-off game, anything can happen. It isn’t impossible that the Lakers lose this game, the Dubs should not be underestimated at all.

At the moment Curry may be unstoppable. He is in the MVP discussion and picked up his second scoring title averaging 32 points of a game.

James, who was also in the MVP discussion before his ankle injury, spoke on Curry’s season. He said: “Everybody counted him this year, everybody said well now that Klay is hurt can Steph lead a team on his own.”

James brought up some of the numbers Curry has been putting up and added: “I don’t know anything else if you’re looking for an MVP.”

LeBron James praising Stephen Curry ahead of the Play-In Tournament

2021 Play-In Tournament: Can the Lakers stop Steph Curry?

In a one-off game, Curry could go off and have an unstoppable game. Limiting and frustrating him is going to be key to the Lakers winning.

It should also be noted that the Warriors are not at full strength for this game. They are missing their very talented rookie center, James Wiseman.

They are also missing Kelly Oubre Jr, despite him having an inconsistent season he is a good defender and is capable of having big games on offense.

Despite, these big injuries Curry still has a good chance of surprising the Lakers. We saw him come up big against the Memphis Grizzlies in the last game of the regular season.

An important game, which if they lost they would have dropped to the ninth seed and had an even more difficult path to the playoffs.

Curry dropped 46 points, 9 assists and 7 rebounds. He also drained very clutch threes to get the Warriors a much needed win.

Curry had a big game to secure the eighth seed meet the Lakers in the Play-In tournament

Curry has been getting doubled and trapped all year long but has still managed to have big games. We know Vogel is a great defensive-minded coach, but whether or not he will be able to devise a plan to stop Curry in the Play-in Tournament, we will just have to see.

The Lakers did a good job defending James Harden in the playoffs last year after Game One, using different defenders and well-timed double teams to disrupt that Rocket team’s offense.

Vogel has shown he is able to handle all-time great scoring guards, but Harden and Curry are very different. Harden doesn’t have Curry’s off-ball movement, or a playmaker like Draymond to disrupt Curry’s defender and find him open.

The Lakers are very good at double teams, one of these reasons is their ability to rotate on defense and deal with ball movement. They are very good at moving as the ball gets moved to contest the open man after a double team.

Limiting the damage Curry does will be a key to winning this dangerous, one off game. Being one of the best defensive teams in the NBA and having Vogel should be reassuring to Lakers fans.

If any team is able to limit Curry, it is the Lakers.

Lakers played great defense throughout last year’s playoffs. We should expect more great defense in the Play-In Tournament

Can Golden State Warriors Stop the Lakers in the Play-In Tournament?

A big question of the NBA Play-In Tournament is whether or not the Lakers can stop Stephen Curry. The question definitely goes both ways.

Can the Warriors stop the Lakers? Not just LeBron James, but the Lakers. They are a much stronger team that the rest of the teams in the Play-In Tournament.

Not much has to be said about James, one of the greatest players of all time. He is unstoppable getting to the rim, and he will find open shooters when the Warriors play help defense.

The Lakers also have Dennis Schroder who can go off offensively. When he puts his head down and takes the ball to the basket not many can stop him because of his size and pace.

He’s got a good midrange and when James is off the court he can be a great playmaker for the team, which we saw whilst the Lakers was dealing with their big injures.

We also already know what Davis could do if he plays to the best of his ability. On his day, he is arguably the most unguardable big man in the NBA. He will be key to defeating the Warriors.

How good the Warriors are when Curry isn’t on the court is a major concern for that team. The Lakers have a strong rotation who can capitalize on that time.

He played nearly 40 minutes in the Warriors’ important game against the Grizzlies and is likely to play similar minutes against the Lakers. The Lakers bench will score at a high level thanks to Montrezl Harrell, and Schroder who will get minutes with different rotations. Also, potentially, Talen Horton-Tucker.

Having a stronger bench will be important to the Lakers in this matchup and throughout the playoffs. One player who doesn’t start for the Lakers, but could make a big impact is Marc Gasol.

Any rotation with Gasol plays great offense because of his passing ability. He gets a lot of touches of the ball and will draw out the opposing center from under the basket and make space for cuts.

Marc Gasol against the Clippers in preseason, he displays his passing ability often. It could be a difference maker against the Warriors in the NBA Play-In Tournament

If the Lakers play their best basketball, it’s hard to see the Warriors winning. Although, they haven’t played as much basketball with starting five as they would like.

If you have to play the Lakers, the best time would be early, there’s no earlier than the Play-In Tournament. The Play-In Tournament is a dangerous format where anything could happen.

The game will take place Thursday night, will James advance and start his journey to a 5th ring. Or will Curry continue to surprise people during his great season?

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