Game Preview: Warriors vs. Lakers – 5/19/21

After a weeks-long back-and-forth battle with the Memphis Grizzlies, the Warriors earned the No. 8 seed of the NBA Play-In Tournament, which pits them against long-time California rival and 7th seed Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday. The two clubs clash in the first ever Play-In matchup for either club, a tournament format adopted by the NBA last season. The winner of this game will advance straight into the NBA Playoffs as the seventh overall seed. The loser will have one more chance to advance as the 8th and final playoff spot in a game later this week against the winner of the San Antonio Spurs and Memphis Grizzlies matchup.

The Warriors won the first of the three meetings between the clubs in the regular season, but have lost the last two head-to-head matchups. However, the Dubs captured their lone win against Los Angeles on the road, and that is where Wednesday’s bout will take place as the teams head to Staples Center for this one-game playoff.

Stephen Curry lifted the Warriors over a resilient Memphis Grizzlies squad with clutch threes in the final minutes, leading the Dubs to victory and into the Play-In Tournament as the second highest seed. » Full Game Recap

With his 46 points in Sunday’s matinee against the Memphis Grizzlies to end the regular season, Stephen Curry officially clinched the NBA’s scoring crown as the league’s highest scoring player at 32.0 points per game. It marked the second time in his career he has earned the honor after having won it in the 2015-16 season as part of his unanimous MVP campaign. At 33, Curry becomes the oldest scoring champion since Michael Jordan (35 years old, 28.7 points per game in 1997-98). Curry also scored 2,015 points in 2020-21, the most points scored in the NBA this season and the second time in his career he’s reached that milestone (2,375 in 2015-16), thereby joining Wilt Chamberlain, Rick Barry and Chris Mullin as the only Warriors to score at least 2,000 points in multiple seasons. Having played in 63 games this season, Curry becomes the first player in NBA history to score 2,000 points in that many games (previous record was 68 games held by World B. Free in 1979-80 and James Harden last season).

The Lakers last two wins over the Dubs in the regular season came in similar fashion: they took commanding leads early that the Warriors could not overcome. On Feb. 28, four-time MVP LeBron James and Markieff Morris led the way with 26 first half points on 5 treys made en route to a 117-91 victory. In the subsequent matchup the scoring punch came from reserve Montrezl Harrel who logged 19 first half points in 15 minutes to lead Los Angeles to a 128-97 win. While James is always a threat and in a variety of ways on offense and eight-time All-Star Anthony Davis is among the biggest two-way threats in the post, it has been Lakers reserves who have consistently done most of the damage against the Warriors. Harrell (16.7 points against the Dubs), Talen Horton-Tucker (14.5), Kyle Kuzma (14.7) and Alex Caruso (10.0) are non-starters who averaged double-digits in scoring against the Warriors in the 2020-21 campaign. Though the Lakers struggled to stay healthy late in the season as James, Davis, and starting point guard Dennis Schröder just returned in their finals games after missing extended periods of time, they look to be back to full strength headed into Wednesday’s game.


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