The Warriors are +11.5 road dogs to the Lakers tonight. This is a sucker line, and I wouldn’t look at it twice unless I seriously believed the Warriors had a chance to win. Which I don’t. If the Warriors lose competitiveness in this game, it could easily turn into a blowout.
As optimistic as I am about the Warriors in the wake of the return of their big men, they are simply not close to being able to challenge the juggernaut that is this year’s Los Angeles Lakers. Especially in this game. The Warriors were carried by Monta Ellis and Rony Turiaf last night. How much can we expect them to have left in the tank, when Monta went all 48, and Turiaf is still shaking off the rust? And after last night’s stirring victory, a letdown would be only human.
The Lakers are also playing back-to-back. But their starters only played 36 minutes last night. And they got shellacked by the Suns, so you can expect that Kobe Bryant will have his team ready to play. If the Warriors manage to stay competitive in this game, I will sit up and take notice.
If there is any bright spot for the Warriors in this game, its that a couple of chinks have appeared in the Lakers’ armor. Artest may not be able to play. A couple of days ago, he apparently fell down some stairs while carrying Christmas packages, and suffered a concussion. At least that’s the official story. Why do I think he might have tripped over a bottle of Hennessy?
Also, Andrew Bynum has not played like himself lately. He could be in a funk due to the return of Pau Gasol, or he could be suffering from a respiratory infection, depending on which Lakers writer you follow. Can the Warriors run him off the court?
All eyes are going to be on the Kobe/Monta matchup. But I expect a big game from Stephen Curry going against Derek Fisher. Don Nelson has played matchups in benching Curry the last couple of games. But there is also no doubt in my mind that Nellie was sending a strong message to the rookie. Get aggressive. Take over. Or sit. I expect that Curry has gotten the memo.
Will Randolph get another start at power forward? His stint there didn’t go well last night. And he will have another tough matchup going against Pau Gasol tonight. Remember what happened the last time these two hooked up?Randolph suffered a Melted Brain, and took himself off the court. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Vlad Rad get the start, and Randolph come off the bench to run point-center like he did last night.