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The Los Angeles Lakers will look to close out the Golden State Warriors in Game Six of the Western Conference semifinals Friday night.
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The Warriors came out of the gates hot in Game Five, just as many expected them to down 3-1 and facing elimination in the comfort of their home building. The Lakers brought the game back several times but entered halftime down 11 points and gave up a 9-2 run to open the second half. Steph Curry and company were able to hold the purple and gold at bay the rest of the way home.
Golden State got it done in completely different ways. They made 11 of 21 three-point attempts in the first half and then only made two threes in the second half, yet they were just as dominant on offense. That will be a serious problem for the Lakers if they cannot increase their defensive focus and also execute better on offense in the rest of the series.
Anthony Davis left the game a few minutes into the fourth quarter after incidental contact in the form of a Kevon Looney forearm to the face left him woozy. He did not return to the game and was reportedly taken for examination in a wheelchair, leading many to believe that he had suffered a concussion, though he was able to walk out of the arena under his own power and reportedly escaped a concussion.
Draymond Green played the most aggressive offensive games arguably of his entire career, finishing with 20 points and 10 rebounds. His ability and willingness to constantly attack the Lakers defense in transition kept them on their heels and created tons of easy looks at the cup. Andree Wiggins (25 points, seven rebounds, five assists) and Steph Curry (27 points, eight assists) were also efficient and impactful.
LeBron James led the Lakers with 25 points and nine rebounds and finally made some three-point shots at a decent clip after starting the playoffs shooting 21% from long range. Davis had 23 points and nine rebounds when he exited but was again quiet in the second half. D’Angelo Russell and Austin Reaves both had 15 points but were not noticeable until the fourth quarter during a failed desperate attempt to keep the game close.
The game ended with both teams shooting the same percentage from three (37%) and the same amount of free throws (15). That’s an advantage for the Warriors who succeeded in forcing LA to play their game. The Lakers need to get back to dominating the interior and getting to the charity stripe if they want to avoid blowing a 3-1 lead.
The Warriors annihilated the Lakers’ drop coverage and then blitzing of the pick-and-roll with excellent passing into the pocket and then the ability to make plays behind the second level of the defense. They also combined that with a breakneck tempo in transition to keep the Lakers scrambling and oftentimes matched up with someone other than their primary assignment.
LA needs to figure out how it can switch the pick-and-roll and still keep Davis close to the rim on defense to be able to win. He has been forced to spend most of his time chasing guards on the perimeter because of the defense they have been playing, which has opened up cutting lanes into the restricted area.
The Lakers may consider starting with a three-guard lineup and inserting Dennis Schroder in place of Jarred Vanderbilt, whose minutes have steadily decreased throughout the series because of his offensive ineffectiveness. Schroder was a lone bright spot in Game Five and finished with a +14 plus/minus in 29 minutes.
The Lakers will win Game Six if Davis plays and they can get back to drawing fouls and not committing many. They also need to take care of the basketball and get back in transition to contain the Warriors’ offense that has thrived moving downhill.
The Warriors will win if they can keep Davis off-balance at the center of the Lakers’ defense and also make timely three-pointers. They only shot 22% from long range in the two games on the road earlier in this series, but Steve Kerr’s team has also won at least one road game in 28 straight series, an NBA playoff record.
The Lakers earned our trust as the top-to-bottom better team and have their best chance to win the series at home in Game Six. Steve Kerr won the chess battle in Game Five, but Darvin Ham has made several adjustments of his own and will have a plan to counteract Golden State’s effectiveness.
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Grant is a sports and sports betting journalist who prides himself on delivering breaking news and insightful analyses of the industry. Grant graduated from Virginia Tech in 2021 and is feverishly pursuing his ambitions in the sports betting field.
In his free time, Grant can be found passionately watching sports, doing a workout, or searching for adventure with his friends.More info on Grant Mitchell
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