3 keys for the Lakers in Game 5 versus the Warriors
After a rocky and eventful regular season that saw them start 2-10 and remain under .500 for most of the schedule, the Los Angeles Lakers are just one win away from reaching the Western Conference Finals.
They got here with a gritty and gutsy win in Game 4 of their second-round playoff series versus the Golden State Warriors on Monday, and now they can knock the defending NBA champs out of the postseason in Game 5 on Wednesday.
This is no time for L.A. to get complacent, especially against a team that has won four of the last eight world titles. To end this series now rather than later, the Purple and Gold will need to address these three points of emphasis.
Shut down Klay Thompson
The Lakers may be able to survive a big game from Stephen Curry, but they cannot allow Thompson to get hot again.
Game 5 will take place at Chase Center in San Francisco, and the last time these two teams faced off at that venue, Thompson turned into Mount St. Helens, erupting for 30 points on 11-of-18 overall shooting and 8-of-11 from 3-point range.
But in the other three games of this series thus far, he has shot below 40 percent from the field.
Get significant production from D'Angelo Russell, Austin Reaves and Rui Hachimura
LeBron James and Anthony Davis played 43 minutes apiece in Game 4, and naturally one has to wonder if they may be tired in Game 5, especially on the road.
In order to take the burden off L.A.’s two superstars, the team must get lots of help from its supporting players.
Reaves did his job well in Game 4 with 21 points on 7-of-15 overall shooting and 3-of-6 from downtown after a bad start. But Russell was just 1-of-10, while Hachimura attempted just one shot in 14 minutes.
That type of production from Russell and Hachimura simply won’t get it done.
Have a killer instinct
When the Lakers held a 3-1 lead in their prior series against the Memphis Grizzlies, they came out flat in Game 5, falling behind by a huge margin and losing by 17 points, leading some to question if they had a killer instinct.
If there is one team they must have one against, it’s the Warriors, a team that has come back from a 3-1 deficit in the playoffs before.
Ideally, the Lakers should look to, figuratively speaking, punch Golden State in the mouth early. But if they’re unable to do so, they need to at least keep things close and not play from behind by more than a possession or two.
Keeping things close, if needed, will make Curry and company grow more anxious as the game wears on, as the team will have to confront the possibility of early playoff extinction and perhaps the end of its dynasty.