Los Angeles Lakers game previews between October 24 and October 30, including games against; Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder, Utah Jazz.
The Lakers tip off their season against three Western Conference foes. The schedule is not kind to them early in the season as the Lakers face three potential playoff teams. The young team will be tested, especially with two of the three games on the road.
Wednesday, 26 October 2016 at 10:30 PM ET Home
The Lakers start their season off with James Harden and the Houston Rockets. The Rockets made a splash in the offseason in hiring Mike D'Antoni to be their new head coach. Center Dwight Howard left in free agency to the Atlanta Hawks and 22-year-old Clint Capela will already have a huge role for this team. D'Antoni's teams have been known to struggle in the defensive department and Capela will have to be an anchor in the paint if the Rockets want to compete in with the premier teams in the West. An exciting thing to watch this season will be how effective Harden will be in the new offense. The Rockets will score a lot of points this season and Harden will have more opportunities than ever before in his career. He might be an easy pick to be the scoring leader this season.
The Lakers should be able to score against the Rockets but the big question will be whether or not they can stop them on defense. The Rockets will put up a lot of points and if Los Angeles can not keep up, this game will get ugly in a hurry. A big reason why Luol Deng was a great addition for the Lakers is that he has been a great defender in the NBA. He will have the assignment for most of the athletics guards/forwards in the league and will draw Harden for his first test of the season.
Friday, 28 October 2016 at 09:00 PM ET Away
The Jazz had a ninth place finish last year and will look to improve upon that after some offseason moves. They were close to the eighth seed for the entire season last year but lost four of their last final five games to fall into ninth place and one game behind Houston. This season begins with a bit of rain as star forward Gordan Hayward will be out until at least mid-November with a fractured left finger.
However, the team has enough pieces to remain steady in the treacherous West. The additions of Boris Diaw, Joe Johnson, and George Hill will be great for the development of the younger players as they won't be thrown into the fire immediately. The main concern for the Jazz will be keeping center Rudy Gobert healthy. Utah primarily has Jeff Withey behind Gobert, and should Gobert go down there will be a giant hole in the center position. Gobert will also be the Lakers primary focus in this game. Mozgov will have his hands full with the 24-year old and will certainly need help to limit his damage. The Jazz are a good defensive team, and with Gobert and Derrick Favors in the paint, it will be difficult to get points around the rim. Los Angeles will need to have their shooting stroke in this one if they want a win.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Sunday, 30 October 2016 at 07:00 PM ET Away
Even though the Thunder lost Kevin Durant in the offseason, they still have enough talent on the team to be a playoff contender. Towering centers Enes Kanter and Steven Adams were excellent on defense last season and were a big reason the Thunder made it to the Western Conference Finals. Victor Oladipo will only help the Thunder in that department. In addition, Oladipo will have to take on a lot of the scoring load because of the loss of Durant. Head coach Billy Donovan had some great moments last year and proved why it was necessary for the Thunder to fire Scott Brooks. He will have a different team this year and even though expectations are not as high as last season. Donovan will not have any easy time getting this Thunder team back to the top of the West.
D'Angelo Russell will face one of the best guards in the league in Russell Westbrook and this will be an early season test for the sophomore player. D'Angelo has shown strides of improvement from his rookie season but it will be telling to see how he does against Westbrook. It will also be a test for new coach Luke Walton as he will have to develop a game plan to score on and defend a good Thunder team. The Lakers never seem to play well in Oklahoma City, as shown by a prolonged losing streak in Chesapeake Energy Arena.