Opening night for the Los Angeles Lakers was unexpected. Even the most optimistic fans did not expect to blow out the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday. It happened, though there is not much time to relish in a victory. On Wednesday evening, the Lakers are in Oakland for a rendezvous with the Golden State Warriors.
Normally, the second night of a back-to-back would be a cause for concern, but the Lakers played a deep 11-man rotation and sat all their starters for the duration of the fourth quarter in Tuesday's win. Steve Nash will not play as part of a preplanned strategy designed to preserve the aging point guard for the whole season. Jodie Meeks will start in place of Nash.
While the Lakers are feasting on the success of opening night, the Warriors are pacing in anticipation for their season to start. On Wednesday night, the hunger of hosting a home game is exponentially increased when that game is also the season opener.
Tuesday night at Staples Center, the crowd matched the energy of the team. Oakland will only offer energy to one team, the Warriors.
Benches’ characteristically do not travel well, but this Lakers’ bench went to China together. There, they faced the Warriors twice and lost twice. Both preseason contests did not feature Harrison Barnes, and Barnes has been ruled out of Wednesday's game. As such, the two games in China should offer insight into Wednesday's game.
In Beijing, the Lakers lost in a rather unconvincing manner. After three quarters, Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni decided he was satisfied with what he had seen from his starters. The Lakers led by 11 points, and the final 12 minutes were evaluating the squad. None of the starters--which included Chris Kaman for this game--played a second of the final quarter.
The lead slowly evaporated, but D’Antoni did not flinch. After the game, he explained that he was still trying to figure out which guys would make the final roster. He wasn’t lying, as Darius Johnson-Odom was cut the next day.
In Shanghai, the Lakers were less convincing. The Warriors broke the game open and pulled away in the third quarter, but LA won the first quarter and led entering the half. Still, the game in Shanghai provided both teams with a great deal of film to watch entering Wednesday’s contest.
Andre Iguodala at the point proved to be fatal for the Lakers. In Shanghai, Iguodala read defenses beautifully and handed out 14 assists and only fumbled away one turnover. Klay Thompson was a regular beneficiary of Iguodala's vision, and Thompson finished with 25 points.
One constant in both preseason games was David Lee. The former New York Knicks forward regularly challenged, attacked, and beat Pau Gasol with pace. In Beijing, Lee scored 31 points. In Shanghai, that number dropped to 16, but it still came on 6-10 shooting. Muzzling Lee without freeing up Iguodala, and Thompson is a difficult task for the Lakers.
Oh right, Steph Curry is on the team, too.
The Lakers at Warriors tips-off at 7:30pm PST from the ORACLE Arena in Oakland, Ca.