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Thursday, May 11, 2023

Warriors Roll in Game Five, Put Pressure on Lakers to Win Game Six at Home

Three Warriors scored at least 20 points and all five Warriors starters scored in double figures as the Warriors took an early lead versus the L.A. Lakers, withstood a Lakers run, and did not trail in the second half en route to a 121-106 game five win. Stephen Curry led the way with 27 points on 12-24 field goal shooting and a game-high eight assists. Andrew Wiggins had his best game of the 2023 playoffs (25 points, seven rebounds, five assists), and Draymond Green delivered a double double (20 points, 10 rebounds) instead of the triple single that he had in four of his previous 10 playoff games this year. Coach Steve Kerr inserted Gary Payton II in the starting lineup for the second consecutive game, and Payton II finished with a game-best +25 plus/minus number even though his boxscore numbers were modest (13 points, six rebounds). Klay Thompson continued to struggle (10 points on 3-12 field goal shooting), which is a concern not only for game six but for subsequent rounds if the Warriors survive and advance. The undersized Warriors outrebounded the Lakers 48-38, and only lost the points in the paint battle by two (52-50), which is a victory for the Warriors because they can expect to win the battle from beyond the arc (plus nine points in game six).

LeBron James led the Lakers with 25 points and nine rebounds. He played well, but he did not dominate, which is what is needed to win game five on the road, and the same can be said of Anthony Davis, who posted nearly identical numbers (23 points, nine rebounds). Davis left the game with 7:34 remaining in the fourth quarter after being accidentally hit in the head by Kevon Looney. The Lakers trailed 102-88 at that point, and Davis had a game-worst -22 plus/minus number, so his absence down the stretch is not why the Lakers lost this game. TNT's Chris Haynes reported that Davis had trouble walking (this was not evident in the video shown on television), and that he required a wheelchair to move around the bowels of the stadium. Davis' reputation for being tough and playing through injuries speaks for itself. ESPN showed footage of Davis walking out of the arena unassisted. Assuming that the wheelchair report is true--and I still have not figured out why Haynes is incapable of delivering a report about something that happened five minutes earlier without reading text messages on his phone from a source close to the situation--we can only hope that Davis recovers from what obviously must be a serious injury. I mean, Kobe Bryant once played in an All-Star Game with a broken nose, a concussion, and soft tissue damage in his neck after being hit in the face by Dwyane Wade, so if a member of the NBA's 75th Anniversary Team cannot return to a playoff game and reportedly needs a wheelchair then we have to assume that he has suffered an injury more serious than a broken nose, a concussion, and soft tissue damage in his neck. So, if Davis does not play in game six or does not play well, we already know that he has good reason to disappear for the rest of this series. NFL player Chris Spielman vowed to retire if he ever had to be helped off of the field, but Dwyane Wade once needed a wheelchair for a shoulder injury, so each person defines toughness in his own way.

Both teams shot well in the first quarter, and the Lakers offset the Warriors' three point barrage (7-12 shooting from beyond the arc) with Davis' 13 points on 6-8 field goal shooting. That kind of three point shooting is not sustainable, but a big and skilled player attacking smaller players in the paint is sustainable (or, at least, it could be). The Warriors led 32-28 after the first 12 minutes.

Both teams continued to shoot well in the second quarter, but the Warriors won the points in the paint duel 20-12 while each squad made four shots from beyond the arc. The Warriors led 70-59 at halftime. The Lakers' vaunted defense apparently did not make the trip across California, staying home to get ready for game six. The teams played to a 23-23 tie in the third quarter, and then the Lakers threw in the towel near the end of the fourth quarter after not being able to make a meaningful dent in the deficit.

Almost every day, I read or hear some commentator asserting that Lakers General Manager Rob Pelinka turned the Lakers' season around by trading Russell Westbrook for D'Angelo Russell, Jarred Vanderbilt, and Malik Beasley. Some "experts" are even suggesting that Pelinka should be voted Executive of the Year--for putting together a team that struggled to make the Play-In Tournament, and then struggled to survive the Play-In Tournament!

Lakers Coach Darvin Ham does not share the same assessment of that trade as the "experts" do. How do I know that without speaking to Ham? In game six, with a chance to eliminate the Warriors, Ham played Vanderbilt for 11 minutes, and he did not put Beasley on the court until the final three minutes when both teams emptied their benches. Two of the three players from the supposedly brilliant trade have essentially played themselves out of the rotation because they are who I said they are: limited role players. Russell scored 15 points in 30 minutes, right in line with his playoff averages this season. Russell has some value as a rotation player when he is making his shots, but in other areas of the game he provides little to no value, so if he is not making his shots or not getting shot opportunities he is just another guy running around getting some cardio work done while other players decide the outcome of the game. 

The Lakers' best "trade" was when Davis became available down the stretch and actually put forth effort at both ends of the court. He is capable of being a fearsome defender and a very difficult to guard scorer in the paint. When James is also playing in the paint at both ends of the court, the Lakers can be pretty good. When the Lakers' defense is indifferent and when the Lakers are indifferent about attacking the paint, they give up 121 points, lose by 15, and get ready for the next game.

Road elimination games are tough, as the Knicks proved earlier in the evening by beating the Heat to send their series back to Miami for game six. The Lakers will likely find out that home elimination games versus the Warriors are not a picnic, either. At least the Lakers know that they can count on Davis and the "triumphant trio" to have big performances so that the Lakers do not have to return to Golden State for a winner take all game seven.

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posted by David Friedman @ 2:38 AM



At Thursday, May 11, 2023 2:50:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who do you expect to win Game 6 (and if necessary, Game 7)?

Assume for this question that Anthony Davis is not diagnosed with a concussion and is able to play.

At Thursday, May 11, 2023 8:42:00 AM, Anonymous Eric said...


Great recap. Klay’s inconsistent shooting is definitely a concern for GSW, but I expect a vintage “Game 6 Klay” performance on the road from him at LA. As a hoops fan, I want this series to go the full seven games — no better drama than a Game 7 between LeBron and Steph (their first G7 vs one another since the epic 2016 Finals).

Regarding more on Chris Haynes, I don’t know about you but I absolutely cannot stand this man. His sideline reporting is subpar at best despite this being his third(?) season at it. He has not gotten better at his job. His questions are basic and the sideline audio bites during the telecast are pure cringe and provide zero substance. I don’t know him obviously on a personal level — he seems like a friendly, good guy. I just mute him now every time the broadcast lets him talk.

At Thursday, May 11, 2023 10:01:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


I expect the Warriors to win a close game six (five points or less) and a not so close game seven (10 points or more).

At Thursday, May 11, 2023 10:05:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


Thank you! I don't know if Thompson is capable of a truly vintage performance but if he is then now is the time for it.

It is almost impossible to listen to Haynes because of the frequent grammar miscues--no one has to be perfect, but a basic command of the language is important when your job is to communicate--and because of how often he shifts the focus to himself: compare one of his sideline reports to reports by Stephanie Ready or Allie LaForce (or just about anyone else at TNT other than Haynes): the good sideline reporters convey information concisely, while Haynes regularly feels the need to interject that he texted with LeBron or an "anonymous high ranking source in the organization" (which was probably LeBron saying something that he did not want to admit that he said). We know that sideline reporters have access to players and "high ranking sources." That is their job. Just provide information and keep it moving. We don't care if the information came from a text, an email, or Morse code.

It seems like Haynes wants to make sure that everyone knows how friendly he is with the players, which is also probably why he--more than any other sideline reporter I can recall--is always doing elaborate handshakes and hugs with the players. He acts like he is a fan instead of a journalist.

At Thursday, May 11, 2023 10:34:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Ham said David was fine

The Lakers will close golden state out tomorrow

Ham didn't get a long with Russel at the end

I Kno for fact he didn't want to keep h

Russel is incapable of playing a role for a team

He can only play one way

That why he had to go

They never needed Russel to be a great player

He had to play a solid role.

Shoot well, not turn the ball over, play off ball, play defense

He refused to do it

So they traded him and got better

At Thursday, May 11, 2023 11:23:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


I know what Ham said.

Davis made a remarkable recovery from being wheelchair bound to walking out of the arena like he was on the runway of a fashion show. What a medical miracle we have just witnessed!

Do you read minds? How do you know "for a fact" what Ham thinks about Westbrook? I know for a fact that Westbrook led the Lakers in assists, ranked third in scoring, and ranked fourth in rebounding behind big men Davis, James, and Bryant. I know that Westbrook's turnovers per minute with the Lakers matched his career average. Contrary to the false media narratives, Westbrook was not more turnover prone as a Laker than he had been before.

During his career, Westbrook has been the second option to Durant, he has been the first option, and he made no complaints about being the third option for the Lakers (unlike Melo and other players who complained about not starting and ended up out of the league). Westbrook has led the league in scoring and he has led the league in assists. The false narrative that he only plays one way is nonsense. Once Westbrook signed with the Clippers, he did well as the first, second, or third option, depending on who was injured or load managing from game to game.

Sure, the brilliant trade made the Lakers better. If that is true, please explain why two of the three players from the trade have fallen out of Ham's rotation. I know for a fact that coaches play players who they trust, and they cut the minutes of players who they don't trust. Ham likes Vanderbilt and Beasley a lot less than he liked Westbrook.

Those are the facts.

We'll see if the Lakers win game six. If they lose game six, I agree with Barkley that they have zero chance in game seven.


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