The shoe's on the other foot, as Golden State tries to maintain playoff position and Los Angeles tries to climb back into contention.
Remember that blockbuster trade, the one where Orlando got screwed and the Lakers added another all-star? Kinda funny how it looks at this point in the season, with Denver being the only team over .500 of the four participating teams. And Orlando and the Lakers have identical records.
The Warriors, though, weren't heavy players in the trade market or free agency - barely players at all. And somehow managed to pick up Carl Landry and Jarrett Jack, both of whom are having near-career years off the bench. And somehow have two 20 ppg scorers in David Lee and Stephen Curry. And somehow are 18-9, five and a half games ahead of the Lakers.
All this might lead us to consider tonight's game a ______. Of course we thought last night was one, too, and rather than being a Trapper, it was a Keeper, and just PeeChee. This is still a loseable game, whether a trap or not, and should be a good test for the Dubs in staying focused and taking care of business.
The Lakers are a team of very good players who haven't been playing well - with the major exception of one Kobe Bryant. He's leading the league is scoring, and doing it efficiently. The key, though, has been to shut down his passing. When he goes Hero Mode, the Lakers' suffer - and his defense hasn't been what we might consider the best.
Keys to the game
Rebounding - The Lakers are good on the boards, unlike some of the other teams we've faced recently. With Jordan Hill doubtful for tonight's game, and D'Antoni saying he'll swap Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol in for each other, the rebounding situation could get interesting. The Lakers both grab more boards and give up more boards than the Warriors, but have a smaller differential. Over the last 10 games the Warriors have been improving, and the Lakers dropping, so this should be interesting on both ends of the court.
Turnovers - Gotta hold onto the ball. Los Angeles turns the ball over more than the Dubs, and that needs to happen tonight. Incidentally - over the last 5 games the Warriors have turned the ball over an average of one less time per game than their opponents - the first time this year Golden State has been at an advantage in that category.
3-point shooting - On both sides of the ball. For the season, the Lakers rank 6th in 3pt percentage, and the Warriors rank 7th. While the Lakers might think this gives them a slight advantage, things have changed over the last 10 games. While the Lakers are still shooting about the same, the Warriors are much better, and lead the entire league with a gaudy .407 shooting percentage. Maintaining this difference and defending the 3s will help a lot - and is crucial when combined with the potential Lakers inside game.