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Warriors vs. Lakers Preview: Battle of the Shooting Guards

Golden State looks to "Beat LA" in the first of two matchups against the Staples Center tenants. Although Kobe Bryant has been struggling as of late, let's not forget he can always go off on any given night.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Golden State Warriors (23-3) @ Los Angeles Lakers (8-19)

Staples Center - Los Angeles, CA

7:30 p.m. PST

Radio: KNBR 680 AM | TV: CSN Bay Area

Buddy Blog: Silver Screen and Roll

The Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Lakers are on opposite ends of the spectrum in the Pacific Division. While Golden State leads the division by 4.0 games, the Lakers sit at the bottom of the cellar, 11 games below .500.

Games against teams below .500 should be easy-wins if the Warriors execute on both ends of the floor. The team has not played down to inferior competition this year, losing only to the Memphis Grizzlies, San Antonio Spurs and Phoenix Suns - all playoff contenders. In a 128-98 blowout win against the Sacramento Kings, coach Steve Kerr was able to get all of the guys some run as no Warrior played more than 28 minutes. Golden State should be rested and ready to take on Los Angeles in the second night of a back-to-back.

Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports reported that Byron Scott has discussed with Kobe Bryant about sitting a game or two for fatigue after recent poor play. It will be interesting to see which game Bryant takes the night off as the Lakers face the Warriors, followed by a Christmas matchup with the Chicago Bulls and then a back-to-back against the Dallas Mavericks. I think you can certainly count on Kobe to play on Christmas so it may be the Golden State or Dallas game if the Lakers intend on giving him rest.

In his 19th season, Kobe Bryant is averaging 24.6 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.9 assists. Not bad numbers for a 36 years old but when you factor in efficiency, Bryant is shooting a career low 37% from the field while sporting an astounding 34.4 usage rate (2nd behind Russell Westbrook) via Hollinger's NBA Player Statistics.

Nevertheless if Kobe were to suit up against the Warriors, the star-studded shooting guard matchup, Kobe Bryant vs. Klay Thompson instantly becomes the one to watch. People come to see Kobe Bryant put up buckets, but it won't be easy against the 6' 7" Klay Thompson. Without Kobe, the Lakers simply lack talent and the next significant matchup would be the duel of sixth men, Andre Iguodala and Nick Young. Iguodala and Young's skillsets juxtapose each other as Iggy is a defensive stopper and "Swaggy P" is the league's best three-point shooter.

Another thing to monitor is David Lee's progress in his short stints off the bench. Lee put up a solid 6 points and 7 rebounds in 16 minutes off the bench and looks to give the Warriors another weapon in the team's arsenal.

The L.A. Lakers are a poor defensive team giving up a league high 109.2 points per game according to ESPN Stats. Wesley Johnson is their only above-average perimeter defender while Ed Davis is their best interior presence. With one of the top offensive systems in the NBA, the Warriors should look to push the pace and expose the Lakers' defense from the onset.

Golden State's real test against the L.A. Clippers begins on Christmas. Let's take care of the L.A. Lakers first.

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