The Los Angeles Lakers’ surprising playoff run continued in Game 1 of the West semi-finals against the Golden State Warriors. They stole Game 1 thanks to a big third quarter but the Warriors bounced back and the series is now tied 1-1.
This came after the Lakers managed to dispatch the second-seeded Memphis Grizzlies in six games, marking just the fourth time in NBA history that that has ever happened. Now, they will have to do it again against the Warriors, who will have home court in the second round despite being just the sixth seed.
Fortunately for the Lakers, they are clearly much better than the typical seventh seed. In fact, they have a chance to pull off another upset en route to the Western Conference Finals. Of course, the chances of that will depend heavily on their starting lineup. Let’s take a look at the Lakers’ projected starting lineup.
Projected Lakers starting lineup at Warriors Game 3:
- D’Angelo Russell
- Austin Reaves
- LeBron James
- Jarred Vanderbilt
- Anthony Davis
The Lakers starting five is still fairly new, but it is responsible for their strong showing against the Grizzlies. Russell and Reaves both proved capable of taking over games, giving Los Angeles’ offense some unpredictability.
Despite that, the offense still very much centers around LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Although James’s numbers are down compared to the regular season, he has still made an impact and will likely continue to do so in the second round. Additionally, Davis is coming off the best season of his career and could pose problems for Golden State’s front line, which will have their hands full with him.
Last but not least, Vanderbilt’s defense will be key to the Lakers’ success against an explosive offense. While Golden State’s power forward and center aren’t prolific scorers, they can affect the game in different ways. Vanderbilt will be tasked with crashing the defensive glass, something Sacramento failed to do successfully: defend on the perimeter and ward off drives.
Projected Warriors starting lineup vs Lakers Game 3:
- Stephen Curry
- Klay Thompson
- Andrew Wiggins
- Draymond Green
- Kevon Looney
The Warriors suddenly look like the defending champions again after a strong showing against the Kings, and their experienced starting lineup could pose problems for the Lakers. The Lakers don’t have a player in their starting five who can slow down Curry, meaning it’s likely he’ll have a big series.
If that happens, Thompson could feast on open shots with the Lakers honing in on Curry. Even then, Golden State’s frontcourt will play a huge role in this series. Wiggins is the team’s best perimeter defender and will be tasked with slowing down James, while Green and Looney will be asked to do the same against Davis. It remains to be seen whether they will be successful, but it’ll definitely be something to watch.
All in all, this series has a chance to be both incredible and unpredictable given how evenly matched the Lakers and Warriors are. In fact, this series may very well go seven games.