Los Angeles Lakers game previews between October 31 and November 6, including games against: Atlanta Hawks, Indiana Pacers, Golden State Warriors, Phoenix Suns.
The Lakers started off their first week of the season with a great win at home against the Houston Rockets, followed by two straight losses on the road. This week they will go on a mini road trip as they travel to Indiana and Atlanta, before coming home to face Golden State and Phoenix.
Tuesday, 1 November 2016 at 07:00 PM ET Away
The Lakers hit the road to face the (1-2) Pacers. Indiana has started off the season inconsistently in a year where many thought the team would make a leap. They are coming off of two straight losses to Brooklyn and Chicago. They had a tough loss to the depleted Nets and only scored 15 points in the fourth quarter. Defense has been the problem so far for the Pacers as they are giving up 114 points per game, good for 29th in the league. New addition Jeff Teague has also struggled so far as the guard is shooting 7/35 in three games.
The Lakers main focus will be to contain Paul George as the forward is capable of taking over the game on both sides of the ball. A reason that the Luol Deng pickup was excellent in the offseason was for games like this where Deng can limit George's damage better than most forwards. The Lakers will also have their hands full with second-year center Myles Turner. Turner has been on an absolute tear this season, averaging 21 points and 10 rebounds on 62% shooting. It will be a tough test for the Lakers big men as Turner has been the Pacers second best player so far this season.
Wednesday, 2 November 2016 at 07:30 PM ET Away
The Lakers finish their two-game road trip in Atlanta as they face the (3-0) Hawks. Atlanta has handily won their three games as they lead the league with a +19.3 point differential. The undefeated start has been thanks to their excellent defense as they also lead the league in defense, allowing only 88 points a game. The new addition of Dwight Howard has paid dividends for the Hawks thus far as the former Laker is averaging 10 points and 12 rebounds with 3.3 blocks in three games. The Hawks have moved the ball well in three games as six players are averaging more than 10 points per game.
In addition to keeping Howard off the boards, the Lakers big men also need to worry about Paul Millsap. Millsap has been the leading scorer for Atlanta and he is also averaging 8 rebounds a game. With the loss of Jeff Teague and Al Horford in the offseason, Millsap is the leader of this Hawks team on both sides of the ball. In addition to the paint, the Hawks are excellent at shooting the long ball. Any team that has Kyle Korver on running around behind the arc will always be dangerous shooting the ball. Atlanta is seventh in the league in 3-point percentage at 36.8% per game.
Golden State Warriors
Friday, 4 November 2016 at 10:30 PM ET Home
Lakers head to Staples to face the Golden State Warriors for their first meeting against the Western Conference finalists. The new look Warriors have not been as prominent as many expected in the offseason. The team has struggled on defense and the loss of Bogut has left a hole in the middle. You have to assume that a team with the kind of roster that Warriors have will gel eventually but right now there are glaring weaknesses. The Lakers were one of the nine losses that the Warriors had last year in a game where Golden State shot 4/30 from three. Those Warriors had a record of 55-5 coming into the game and fell in what was one of the biggest upsets in NBA history.
For the Lakers to win this time they will need to be excellent on both sides of the ball. D'Angelo Russell will have to slow down Stephen Curry on offense and will have to force Curry to play defense on the other side of the ball. Luol Deng will likely draw the assignment of covering Kevin Durant but will certainly need help to slow the former MVP down.
Sunday, 6 November 2016 at 09:30 PM ET Home
The Phoenix Suns started off with a brutal schedule as they faced the Thunder, Warriors, and Clippers consecutively. Like the Lakers, the Suns have a very young team littered with veterans. They are currently under a heavy rebuild with new coach Earl Watson and a roster that has a lot of raw talent. As expected the young Suns have struggled on defense, allowing 112 points a game which is good for third worst in the league. The Lakers will look to exploit Phoenix in the paint where they have the least depth. 34-year-old Tyson Chandler is starting in the paint and Alex Len behind him.
The Suns strongest part of their game are their wing players. Devin Booker, Eric Bledsoe, and Brandon Knight are all proven scorers who can rack up points in a hurry. If the Lakers let one or two of these guys get hot they will have trouble containing the rest of the Suns offense. It will be interesting to see Russell and Clarkson matchup against their generation counterparts.