NBA Round 1: Golden State Warriors vs LA Lakers Preview

The 2022/23 NBA season will tip off on the 19th of October Australian time with two big games, the second of which will see the Warriors begin their Championship defence against the LeBron James-led Lakers. Golden State will again be expected to contend this season, with Steph Curry still among the best players in the league and Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and the emerging Jordan Poole serving as some very handy backup. The Lakers, meanwhile, are viewed as a little further down the pecking order, but if Anthony Davis can stay on the court and LeBron James can continue to fight off Father Time, they will be a dangerous outfit. This will be an entertaining game including some of the biggest stars in the game, so let’s take a look at everything you need to know in the lead-up to the tip off.

What Time is the Warriors vs Lakers Game on?

The Warriors vs Lakers game will begin at 1.00pm AEDT, which is 7.00pm local time.

Golden State Warriors Season Hopes

The Warriors are one of the favourites to win this year’s Championship, which would mark their second in a row and fifth since 2015. That entire era has been spearheaded by the trio of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green – with Kevin Durant thrown in for a couple of years for good measure – and those three, now well into their 30s, remain the focal point of the team. Thompson and Green are past their best but still valuable contributors, but Steph Curry, aged 34, doesn’t appear to have lost a step. Add his protégé in Jordan Poole – a player who came on in leaps and bounds last year and who shares many of Curry’s seemingly inimitable skills – to the mix, and you have a team which is extremely difficult to beat.

Los Angeles Lakers Season Hopes

After winning the memorable Championship in a Bubble in 2020, the Lakers have endured a difficult couple of seasons, falling to seventh in the west the year after before missing the playoffs altogether last year. There is, however, some cause for optimism; Anthony Davis missed more than half of last season while LeBron also missed more than his fair share, and if those two are fit and firing then they can cause damage. But that’s a big if. Davis is as injury prone as anyone in the league, and while LeBron is the exact opposite, he’s also set to turn 38 in December and has spent a lot more time on the sidelines than we are accustomed to in the last couple of seasons. They also have a lack of help outside of Russell Westbrook, who many would argue does more harm than good. If it all goes wrong, things could get ugly for the Lakers, but on the other side of the coin, if LeBron and Davis stay fit and find their groove, the Lakers could easily be a contender in the west.

Warriors vs Lakers Preview: Key Talking Points & Predictions

Both teams should have a full squad to choose from in this one. Jordan Poole needs to recover from a black eye he sustained when Draymond Green belted him at practice, while Green himself needs to be welcomed back into the squad for, well, flattening a teammate, but both of those issues should be sorted by game day.

In the game itself, the Lakers need to move the ball. While Golden State are rightly lauded for their offensive firepower, they were also the second best defensive team in the league last year. The Lakers’ assist percentage last year – the ratio of baskets they scored which are assisted – was 26th in the league, and to break through the Warriors’ staunch defence they can’t be too stagnant on offence.

A big game from their stars would also help. Last season, the Warriors won three of the four matchups between these two sides. In the one game they lost, a 37-year-old LeBron James had 56 points. Such a top-heavy team invariably needs that top to fire in order to perform, and against the reigning Champions they will likely need strong performances from both James and Davis.

The Warriors aren’t as reliant on any one player – if Curry fails to fire, Poole is capable of putting up big numbers while Thompson can also fire, and with Draymond distributing they will get plenty of good looks against a suspect Lakers defence.

They are, however, relatively reliant on the three-ball. Last season they took more threes per game than all but two teams, but fortunately they’re pretty good at it – unsurprising given they have two of the best shooters of all time at their disposal. They were eighth in the league for three-point percentage, hitting 36.4% of them – an impressive number for a team taking so many. If they fail to fire from long range they do have plenty of other weapons, but as always, if they have their eye in they will be very tough to stop.

Who are the Players to Watch?

There are plenty in this game, with arguably three of the top ten players in the league set to take to the court. The Warriors sole member of that trio is, of course, Steph Curry, the two-time MVP and reigning Finals MVP.

Now aged 34, he’s still one of the best players in the league. Clearly a lot of that comes from his extraordinary long range shooting, but he’s also got some of the best handles in the business and is an elite finisher at the rim. Typically, the latter of those traits would fade along with a player’s athleticism as they age, but it’s underrated how little Curry has lost in terms of agility, and ability to both get to and finish at the rim.

For the Lakers, LeBron James will obviously attract plenty of attention, as he has for close to two decades. At worst in the top handful of players of all time, LeBron has undoubtedly begun to show his age in the past couple of years, but so intelligent is he a player that he has been able to adapt to his changing body and still averaged an incredible 30.3 points on 52.4% shooting last year – at 37 years of age. And while he’s undoubtedly lost a step or two, he was starting from a mighty high base, and his athleticism is still off the charts. Nearing 40 years of age this year, he is still capable of being one of the most damaging players in the league.

LeBron’s age means that he can’t completely carry the offensive load in the way he once could, which is why Davis is such a pivotal player for this team. At his best, Davis is unstoppable, but too often he appears to flit in and out of games as he pleases. In his 40 games last year he averaged 23.2 points while the year before it was just 21.8 points, but he needs to do more.

For the Lakers to get where they want to go, assuming he can stay on the court, Davis needs to be averaging close to 30 and looking to imprint his hefty frame on the game a lot more than he has over the past couple of years. In his two games against the Warriors last year, he scored 33 points in the first, then took just 13 shots for 16 points in the second. In the first game of the 2022/23 season, he needs to play a lot more like the first of those games to give the Lakers a chance.

Warriors Key Player Stats

Take a look at the averages of the Warriors’ most important players last season.

Steph Curry: 25.5 points, 38.0% 3-point %, 5.2 rebounds, 6.3 assists

Klay Thompson: 20.4 points, 38.5% 3-point %, 3.9 rebounds, 2.8 assists

Draymond Green: 7.5 points, 7.3 rebounds, 7.0 assists, 1.3 steals, 1.1 blocks

Jordan Poole: 18.5 points, 36.4% 3-point %, 3.4 rebounds, 4.0 assists

Lakers Key Player Stats

Take a look at the averages of the Lakers’ most important players last season.

LeBron James: 30.3 points, 52.4% field goal %, 8.2 rebounds, 6.2 assists, 1.3 steals, 1.1 blocks

Anthony Davis: 23.2 points, 53.2% field goal %, 9.8 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.2 steals, 2.2 blocks

Russell Westbrook: 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds, 7.1 assists

Warriors vs Lakers Head to Head Stats

In total, the Lakers and Warriors have met on 430 occasions, with the Lakers leading their head to head 258-172. Last season, however, the Warriors won three of the four games between the two sides.

Warriors vs Lakers Betting

Warriors vs Lakers Win Odds

Golden State Warriors – $1.37

Los Angeles Lakers – $3.10

Warriors vs Lakers Line Betting

Golden State Warriors  -6.5  @  $1.90

Los Angeles Lakers  +6.5  @ $1.93

Warriors vs Lakers Over/Under Totals Betting

Over 227.0 @ $1.89

Under 227.0 @ $1.91

Warriors vs Lakers Tips

With so much star power on the floor this game could go either way, despite the Warriors’ favouritism. They are the better team, but any side boasting both LeBron James and Anthony Davis can beat anyone on their day, and if one or both of those fire then the Lakers are more than capable of causing an upset. There are, however, a lot more ifs associated with the Lakers. We know what we’ll get from the Warriors; they’ll play good defence and move the ball on offence, and should be able to slice and dice their way through the Lakers defence to a big score and a win in their opening game of the season.