On Wednesday evening, the Staples Center will play host to their first must-win game in a while with the seventh-seeded Los Angeles Lakers welcoming the eighth-seeded Golden State Warriors to town. In the historic beginning of the NBA’s play-in game, the nation will receive a historic matchup. In the most important game between LeBron James and Stephen Curry since Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals, a guaranteed spot in the playoffs is on the line.
With James nursing an ankle injury for the last few months, Curry has taken the spotlight as one of the best players in the league once again. Curry averaged 32 points, five rebounds, and five assists per game in a season that caught the attention of James himself.
“I don’t know anything else if you’re looking for an MVP. If Steph is not on Golden State’s team, what are we looking at? We get caught up in the records sometimes,” said James. “Steph has had, in my opinion, the best season all year.”
Those inside the Warriors organization have recognized and greatly appreciated what Curry has done.
“He’s gone above and beyond this season. He’s never been better. I expect they (LA) will throw the kitchen sink at him Wednesday,” said Warriors coach Steve Kerr.
Can the Warriors Dethrone the King?
Curry has proven he can escape the consistent double-teaming, but his biggest challenge Wednesday night will be facing off against two of the best players in the NBA. Even though James and Anthony Davis missed plenty of games this season, the All-Pro duo holds numerous advantages over the Warriors on paper. With a possible combination of James, Davis, and Andre Drummond in the game at once, Golden State will be vastly overwhelmed with the size of the Lakers on both ends of the floor.
The Lakers won two of the three matchups during the season, winning those two games by an average of 28.5 points. Golden State pulled out one 14 point fourth-quarter comeback in January, something that had not been done against a LeBron-led game the previous 284 times he had a double-digit fourth-quarter lead at home.
At the end of the day, both teams are very different from the style of play they boasted in the three matchups this season. With Drummond controlling the paint for Los Angeles and Jordan Poole on a scoring hot streak as the Warriors’ sixth man, each roster has made recent transformations. Ultimately, even with Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins on their own upticks, the game will come down to Curry against James and Davis. Curry, standing at 6’3, might be going against his own Goliath, but David has won before and it would be unwise to count him out this time.
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