The Lakers are in San Francisco to open the 2023-24 preseason with a Saturday evening contest against the Warriors.
Below are three things to know ahead of the matchup:
LEBRON, REAVES TO SIT
As the Lakers try and optimize the preseason load on LeBron James and Austin Reaves, the decision was made for both to sit against Golden State.
LeBron noted after Thursday’s practice that he will likely play in half of L.A.’s six preseason contests.
“I think every game will dictate (that),” he said, typical of his day-by-day process. “I will not be playing in Saturday’s game, that’s for sure, in the Bay, but we’ll see what happens after that.”
As for Reaves, he’s coming off a terrific individual run with Team USA in the FIBA World Cup later in the summer, and the Lakers want to make sure he’s had proper recovery time before the start of the regular season. Reaves hadn’t been practicing in full for the first couple of days of camp, but Darvin Ham had him fully ramped up on Friday, and apparently Reaves responded quite impressively.
“Austin had a hell of a day today. I don’t think he missed a shot,” said Anthony Davis, before quipping, “Aside the ones that I contested.”
REST OF THE ROSTER
Pending changes prior to the tip off, the rest of the Lakers are available to play, and all types of lineup combinations are possible. Ham has already stated that D’Angelo Russell will be his starting point guard, and we know AD will be out there. That leaves three starting spots against the Warriors, since LeBron and Reaves won’t occupy their typical roles.
Jarred Vanderbilt, Rui Hachimura, Taurean Prince and Gabe Vincent all have strong cases to slide into the starting lineup, while Max Christie is similarly capable.
The Lakers could also try a bigger lineup, with either newcomer Jaxson Hayes or Christian Wood sliding next to AD in the frontcourt.
At some point, Darvin Ham will show his hand with the initial preferred starting five, but that won’t happen on Saturday.
The Warriors won’t be whole, either, as Draymond Green hurt his ankle last week, and is expected to be out for a few more weeks. That takes care of the initial question many had about GSW’s rotation, considering Chris Paul’s entrance into the fray. Coach Steve Kerr may end up starting CP3 alongside Steph Curry, with Klay Thompson and Andrew Wiggins in the frontcourt, and Kevon Looney anchoring things inside.
That leaves a younger bench with Gary Payton II, Moses Moody and Jonathan Kuminga alongside veteran free agents Cory Joseph, Dario Saric and Rudy Gay.
The last time the Lakers were in the Bay Area, they beat the Warriors in the second round of the postseason, buoyed by a 117-112 Game 1 victory in Chase Center. Golden State did rally to win both Game 2 (127-100) and Game 5 (121-106) before the Lakers closed out the series at home with a 122-101 Game 6 victory.
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