Warriors vs Lakers Preview: LeBron, Steph Take Play-In Center Stage As Lakers Look to Make Statement at Staples

Eddie Griffin

It’s not a surprise to see a Warriors vs Lakers matchup in the NBA playoffs, but the play-in tournament is not when anyone would have expected.

But the Lakers landed in this spot after an injury-plagued regular season, and we are now in for a highly-anticipated Steph Curry vs LeBron James showdown tonight. For the winner, a first-round matchup with the second-seeded Phoenix Suns awaits. The loser, meanwhile, will host either the Memphis Grizzlies or San Antonio Spurs in an elimination matchup on Friday.

It’s the first postseason matchup between these two superstars since the last of their four consecutive NBA Finals matchups in 2018. The stakes are not as high this time, and the personnel on each side is a bit different. LeBron is on a new team, Kevin Durant is now in the Eastern Conference, and Klay Thompson is sidelined for a second straight season. But of the four play-in tournament matchups, this is by far the most anticipated one.

Which superstar will book their spot in the first round tonight? And which one will have to take on either the Memphis Grizzlies or San Antonio Spurs on Friday night? Here’s our look at the matchup and who’s likeliest to come out on top.

Golden State Warriors vs Los Angeles Lakers, ESPN, 10:00 pm ET

Betting Statistics: Golden State Warriors vs Los Angeles Lakers

  • Golden State Warriors: 39-33 SU, 37-35 ATS, 32-40 O/U
  • Los Angeles Lakers: 42-30 SU, 32-39-1 ATS, 31-41 O/U

Golden State Warriors vs Los Angeles Lakers Betting Odds

  • Spread: Warriors +6 (-110), Lakers -6 (-110)
  • Total: OVER 217 (-110), UNDER 217 (-110)
  • Moneyline: Warriors +205, Lakers -250

Warriors vs Lakers odds are via FanDuel Sportsbook as of Wednesday, May 19 at 9:50 pm ET. For more NBA betting odds, check out our NBA odds page. It features updated odds from FanDuel and other top online sportsbooks.

Can Steph Will the Warriors to the First Round?

After Klay Thompson suffered a torn ACL in November, expectations were understandably low for the Warriors this season. How much could Steph Curry do on his own to will the Warriors to a respectable finish?

Challenge accepted and cleared.

The NBA MVP looks likely to be Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic, who is -7000 to be crowned MVP in the latest NBA futures odds. Jokic has had an incredible season, and he was without Jamal Murray for the Nuggets’ last 18 regular season games. But while Jokic might have the hardware, Steph’s exploits have created quite the debate.

There’s not a serious need to say too much about the Warriors’ supporting cast ahead of this one. But Andrew Wiggins has shot a career-high 47.7 percent from the field and 38 percent from three, and he had 38 in Tuesday’s win over the Suns. Also, second-year guard Jordan Poole, who had 38 against the New Orleans Pelicans last Friday, has had some valuable contributions.

But Steph is both the drink and the straw that stirs the drink. He led the league in scoring at an average of 32 points per game, and he scored at least 30 points 21 times in his last 24 games. The Warriors went 16-8 in that stretch, and they enter the play-in tournament with seven wins in their last eight games. On Sunday, Steph scored 46 points in the Warriors’ 113-101 win over the Memphis Grizzlies, which clinched the #8 and their place in this game.

Will the Healthy Lakers Be Too Much to Handle?

The big question that awaits us tonight is a rather simple one: Will another monster effort from Steph be enough to take down a full-strength Lakers team at Staples Center?

All there has to be said about the Lakers is that when Anthony Davis was sidelined in February due to his Achilles, the Lakers were 21-6 with AD, LeBron, and Dennis Schroder. They were on track to push for top spot in the Western Conference. Then the rest of the season happened. After winning 21 of their first 27 games, the Lakers won only 21 of their last 45 games.

Now the Lakers are healthy again, and while good health returned too late for the Lakers to be able to beat out the Dallas Mavericks or Portland Trail Blazers and avoid the play-in, the champs enter the play-in with five wins in a row.

The Lakers aren’t back to their best just yet, but they navigated a road back-to-back on Saturday and Sunday against the Pacers and Pelicans with two wins and minimal struggle. LeBron did tweak his ankle against the Pelicans, but he is all clear for tonight.

Is a Big Night Ahead for Drummond?

Along with their Big Three all being on the court together again, the Lakers’ supporting cast is stepping up. That needs to happen for them to have the best shot to defend their title.

That supporting cast now includes Andre Drummond, who finished the season with four straight double-doubles and is averaging 11.9 points per game and 10.2 rebounds per game with the Lakers. The Warriors were one of the worst rebounding teams in the NBA this season, so Drummond could be in for a big night tonight. The performance double of Drummond to record a double-double and the Lakers to win is +250 at FanDuel Sportsbook, which is excellent value. So is his the over on his rebound total of 10.5, which comes in at +104.

Which Superstar Will Prevail?

The Warriors own a road win over the Lakers this season, and it came with LeBron, AD, and Schroder all on the floor. On January 18, the Warriors edged the Lakers 115-113, with Steph leading the Warriors back from a 16-point halftime deficit.

The other two meetings were blowout wins for the Lakers. The Lakers won by 26 at Staples Center in February and by 31 at Golden State in March. And if they play like they are capable of playing at full strength, the Lakers can win comfortably tonight. But don’t discount the Warriors. With the form that Steph is in at the moment, anything is possible. If anything, it’s best to stay away from the side, throw some coin on the total–the over is the consensus lean–and enjoy the entertainment.

Golden State Warriors vs Los Angeles Lakers Betting Consensus

  • Spread: 90% Warriors, 10% Lakers (at +/-6)
  • Total: 80% OVER, 20% UNDER (at O/U 217.5)
  • Moneyline: 30% Warriors, 70% Lakers

Golden State Warriors vs Los Angeles Lakers Matchup: Picks, Odds, Stats and More

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