The Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors have proven to be gold standard franchises over the years. Just some time ago, LeBron James and Steph Curry were battling for the NBA’s ultimate prize. Curry last defended a title against James and his Cleveland Cavaliers during the 2018-19 season. Much has changed in that time when looking at both guy’s rosters. One Hall of Famer has changed zip codes, while the other has watched major roster turnover.
The Lakers are the league’s best team. Their last game against the New Orleans Pelicans was a display of their defensive talent. The Lakers held the Pelicans to 37 second-half points after allowing 58 by halftime. Mixed in with efforts, they had 11 steals. When the team moved JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard, much of their identity took a hit. Somehow, they’ve still maintained and used defense as a championship staple like last season. Even Warriors Head Coach Steve Kerr knows the Lakers have remained focused on their title defense, per The Athletic’s Anthony Slater:
Warriors face the Lakers tomorrow. Steve Kerr on LAL: "They have the confidence that comes with winning a championship and they don't have the fatigue that comes with winning multiple championships. This is really a sweet spot. Kind of where we found ourselves the year we won 73"
— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) January 17, 2021
Golden State started the season in a worrisome fashion. Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and James Wiseman were all sidelined. Thompson won’t return, unlike Wiseman and Green, as he is overcoming an Achilles tear. Curry has been able to find a groove and get his team in the thick of the Western Conference. He’s the league’s third-leading scorer at 28.4 points per game. The Lakers backcourt of Dennis Schroder and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will have their work cut out on Monday.
Tip-off is scheduled for 7 PM PST/10 PM EST as part of the league’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day slate.