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Warriors vs. Lakers Preview: Better luck this time

Can the Dubs make this one more competitive?

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Golden State Warriors v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

It’s only been 15 days since the Golden State Warriors got picked apart and run off the court by the Los Angeles Lakers. And now they get to meet for a third and final time this season, with the series tied at one game apiece.

If it’s anything like the Feb. 28 game, do yourself a favor and find something else — anything else — to do with your Monday night. But after a sensational victory over the Utah Jazz on Sunday, the Dubs have a chance to build on their momentum, and prove that they can run with the big dogs.

The deets

Who: Golden State Warriors (20-19) vs. Los Angeles Lakers (25-13)

When: 7:30 p.m. PT

Where: Chase Center, San Francisco, California

TV: ESPN (available on fuboTV)

Projected starting lineups:

Warriors: Stephen Curry, Kelly Oubre Jr., Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green, Kevon Looney
Lakers: Dennis Schröder, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, LeBron James, Markieff Morris, Damian Jones

Last results:

Warriors: Beat the Jazz 131-119 — 1-4 in their last 5 games
Lakers: Beat the Pacers 105-100 — 3-2 in their last 5 games

Team ratings (garbage-time adjusted, per Cleaning The Glass)

Warriors: 109.6 offense (22nd), 111.1 defense (9th), -1.6 (22nd)
Lakers: 112.6 offense (15th), 107.0 defense (1st), +5.6 net (6th)

The story

There’s a lot going against the Warriors in this matchup. They’re not as good as the Lakers, for starters, and got destroyed by LA a few games ago. They’re also playing in the second game of a back-to-back, whereas the Lakers go to take the entire weekend off.

But there’s also a lot of opportunity. LA’s star frontcourt of Anthony Davis and Marc Gasol is injured, and the replacements — Markieff Morris and Damian Jones — look far more manageable. Alex Caruso, arguably the team’s best reserve, is also out.

And on top of that, the Dubs seem to have found some momentum against Utah. They should be entering the game feeling like it’s theirs to lose.

Players to watch

Warrior to watch: Andrew Wiggins.

Prior to Sunday’s game, Wiggins hadn’t reached the 25-point mark since Dec. 29. But he was spectacular against Utah, with 28 points on 12-for-16 shooting, and strong defense against Donovan Mitchell.

He’ll play a huge role against the Lakers. Not only does Golden State need his secondary scoring, but he’ll likely be tasked with defending LeBron James.

Laker to watch: Dennis Schröder.

Schröder has had some utterly dynamic performances this season, and with Anthony Davis out, the Lakers are extra reliant on him to slide into a star role alongside James. When he gets going, he can turn a game around all by himself.

Matchup to watch: James Wiseman vs. the Lakers centers.

LA is the league’s best defensive team for a reason, but that defense takes a big hit with Davis and Gasol — and their combined five All-Defense selections — sidelined. Warriors fans know all too well that Damian Jones can be exploited by the right matchups, and the closest thing the Lakers have to a backup center is Montrezl Harrell, a power forward with negative interest in defense.

Wiseman has been on a tear out of the All-Star break, with 30 points on 14-for-18 shooting in just 35 minutes. If he goes to work against the Lakers, it could propel the Warriors to another win.

Keys to victory

  • Keep the offensive rhythm and movement that they found on Sunday
  • Smart and spirited play from the young second unit
  • Get out in transition regularly

Another winning streak, Dubs? It could happen.

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