For four straight seasons (2015-2018) LeBron James and Stephen Curry faced off against each other in the NBA Finals. The two teams will meet again in an important showdown, but this time the stakes are a little lower. James’ Los Angeles Lakers and Curry’s Golden State Warriors will do battle on Wednesday night in the West’s 7 vs. 8 play-in game. The winner will secure the seventh seed in the conference, and play the No. 2 Phoenix Suns in the first round of the traditional 1-8 playoff format. The loser will play the winner of the West’s 9 vs. 10 play-in game between the Memphis Grizzlies and San Antonio Spurs for a chance to secure the eighth seed.
James has already made his feelings regarding the play-in tournament well known. Last month, the superstar forward said that whoever came up with the idea for the tournament should be fired. “That’s wack,” LeBron said of the play-in tournament. “You’ve got to earn your spot to be in the postseason. No consolation for finishing last. That’s corny.”
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Curry was a bit more optimistic about the tournament, saying that he was excited for the opportunity. But, regardless of how either player feels about it, both will need to win in the play-in tournament if they want to advance to postseason play. With that said, here’s everything you need to know about the play-in game between the Lakers and Warriors.
(7) Los Angeles Lakers vs. (8) Golden State Warriors
- Date: Wednesday, May 19 | Time: 10 p.m. ET
- Location: Staples Center — Los Angeles, California
- TV: ESPN | Live stream: WatchESPN
- Odds: GS +175; LAL -200; O/U 219.5 (via William Hill Sportsbook)
Featured Game | Los Angeles Lakers vs. Golden State Warriors
Lakers: It’s all about health for the Lakers. Injury issues are the reason that they’re even in the seventh spot to begin with. LeBron is fresh off an ankle injury that knocked him out for nearly a third of the season, and Anthony Davis has been dealing with his own injury issues. When those two are healthy and out on the court together, the Lakers are extremely tough to topple. Unfortunately for L.A., the two stars have barely got to play with each other since the All-Star break, and that has to be a cause for concern. However, as long as James and Davis are out there, the Lakers will always have a great chance of winning.
Warriors: Golden State is a dangerous team, but its success this season has been largely due to the play of Curry, who secured the second NBA scoring title of his career. The Warriors don’t have a clear-cut second option on offense behind Curry, and that’s a big part of the reason why they’ve needed him to carry the team on the offensive end. If Curry can have a huge game offensively — 40 or 50 points — then the Warriors will have a solid shot of winning. Otherwise, it will be tough to walk away with a win against the defending champs.
This is a game that would scare me if I were the Lakers given Curry’s ability to completely go off on any given night. Still, the Lakers are the defending champions for a reason, and when they’re healthy, they’re a better team than the Warriors. In short, the combined greatness of James and Davis should outweigh the singular greatness of Curry in this one. Pick: Lakers -4.5