NBA Basketball Matchup: Lakers vs Warriors
The Warriors have dropped five straight, while the Lakers continue their dominance of the Pacific Division stringing together four wins in their last five after coming up short on Tuesday against the San Antonio Spurs.
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Date/Time: 10:30 PM ET, Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Venue: Oracle Arena, Oakland, California
While Los Angeles has pretty much locked up a postseason appearance with just a handful of games remaining, where exactly they fall into the playoff picture is not quite so clear.
The Lakers enter Wednesday’s bout at Oracle Arena, playing a Warriors team who are plainly out of the playoffs, but will aim to spoil LA’s chances of claiming a division title and home court advantage during the playoffs, as well as avoiding a regular season series sweep.
Kobe Bryant scored 23 of his 40 points in the second half as host Los Angeles beat Golden State 120-112, and for the 15th time in 16 meetings that last time the two met back on April 1.
And while LA was without All-Star center Andrew Bynum for most of the contest after leaving the game with a sprained left ankle in the first quarter, will now be without Bryant in this one.
The NBA’s leading scorer (28.1 points per game) is expected to miss his seventh straight game Wednesday night.
But much like the last meeting with the Warriors, when Troy Murphy came on in place of Bynum and grabbed 11 rebounds for Los Angeles that crushed Golden State on the backboards 50-29, the Lakers will look to their other starters to make up for the absence of their star guard.
And it will all start with small forward Metta World Peace who supplied the 3-point backbreaker, in that win over Golden State earlier this month. Peace has come up big game after game, putting up 17 points and nearly three assists per game over his last five outings.
Bynum has also been a key factor in the Lakers recent success, dragging down 16.6 rebounds and 22 points per game, while big Pau Gasol continues his low post dominance, averaging 22.0 points over five straight appearances.
That’s a lot of offensive firepower for a Warriors squad that has been hit hard by injuries and will likely be without David Lee, Stephen Curry, Andrew Bogut and Richard Jefferson, all who missed out on the Spurs 120-99 shellacking of Golden State on Monday.
It’s was the eighth time in the Warriors last 15 games that opponents have scored more than 100 points, while the team has averaged putting up just 92 PPG in the same span.
Lee scored 27 points to lead six players in double figures for the Warriors the last time they went against LA. So without his presence in this one, it’s not looking good.
Free Pick: Lakers- With the Clippers hot on their tail, the Lakers are clearly the team that under pressure here. On the other hand, Golden State has nothing to lose, which can sometimes be enough to pull off the unthinkable. Nevertheless, with or without Kobe, the Lakers walk away with a win here.