LOS ANGELES – The Warriors and Lakers played twice in the preseason, and both teams kept things as vanilla as you might expect.
That will change Friday night at Staples Center, where the teams meet for the first of three regular-season battles this month.
Lakers coach Luke Walton spent two seasons as a Warriors assistant, including half the 2015-16 campaign as interim head coach. He knows the playbook, knows the tendencies of Warriors coach Steve Kerr.
Will it help? Maybe.
But maybe Walton won’t need a cheat sheet. The Lakers, even while falling on hard times, have found a way to beat the Warriors once in each of the past three seasons.
Warriors by 11
MATCHUP TO WATCH
Stephen Curry vs. D’Angelo Russell: Despite a well-earned reputation for being flighty and immature, Russell has been playing solid ball. He’s confident and productive, burning the Hawks for 23 points in a win at Atlanta on Wednesday. Curry thrives on a challenge, and he’s not opposed to taking a youngster to school
Warriors: G Pat McCaw (L ankle sprain) is listed as doubtful. C Damian Jones (R pectoral surgery recovery) is list as out.
Lakers: C Timofey Mozgov (L eye soft tissue contusion) is listed as doubtful.
The Warriors have won three of four in each of the past three seasons, nine of 12 overall during that span.
THREE THINGS TO WATCH
1) The Warriors are on a back-to-back set. They not only played Thursday night – while the Lakers rested – but will be coming off an emotional home win over Oklahoma City. A letdown is conceivable, so this looks to be LA’s best chance to steal a win over their Northern California foes.
2) The LA bench is not awful. With Lou Williams, Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. leading the way, the Lakers bench has been surprisingly effective. All three bring firepower, with each capable of a 20-point night. If the Warriors don’t play defense at a high level, it could open the door.
3) Warriors forward Draymond Green and Lakers forward Julius Randle are cut from similar emotional cloth, and both are aware of it. There is mutual admiration, but also a strong desire to make a statement. Green wants squelch the youngster, who wants to prove his worth.