It wasn’t that long ago when Stephen Curry and LeBron James were duking it out in the NBA Finals. This time, they’ll be trying to hammer each other in the play-in tournament, as they try to will their team to a win that would give them the seventh seed in the playoffs.

Catch this game live on Thursday, May 20, at 10 AM, Manila time

HOME TEAM: Los Angeles Lakers (42-30, 21-15 at home)

Projected Starting Five:

  • PG: Dennis Schroder
  • SG: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
  • SF: LeBron James
  • PF: Anthony Davis
  • C: Andre Drummond

LeBron James pulled off an Aaron Rodgers and practically told Lakers fans to just R-E-L-A-X when he scored 25 points in 27 minutes in LA’s 110-98 road win against the New Orleans Pelicans on the last day of the regular season. 

LeBron has now averaged 24.5 points since returning to action, and he’ll be out there on Thursday alongside Anthony Davis and Dennis Schroder to give the Lakers the best possible lineup they could roll out in the play-in tournament. The Lakers went 2-1 straight up in the regular season against the Warriors, with both wins coming in the last two meetings with Golden State – and both were by massive margins.

The Lakers know that Stephen Curry is a big problem for the team, but LA was also effective in silencing Golden State’s offense in the regular season, allowing the Warriors to shoot just 44.8 FG% and 30.6 3FG% in three meetings. They held Curry, who averaged 32 PPG this season, to a 23 PPG average in those games.

The duo of Davis and Andre Drummond will be a tremendous challenge for Golden State’s slim and undersized frontcourt. Their rebounding should be able to limit Golden State’s chances on offense. The Lakers are 3-1 against the spread in their last four games against Golden State.

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ROAD TEAM: Golden State Warriors (39-33, 14-22 on the road)

Projected Starting Five:

  • PG: Stephen Curry
  • SG: Andrew Wiggins
  • SF: Kent Bazemore
  • PF: Draymond Green
  • C: Kevon Looney

The Warriors are hotter than the surface of a street on a Manila high noon. Stephen Curry and company are on their way to the play-in tournament after winning all their last six assignments, during which Golden State has also gone undefeated against the spread. 

The team is also 8-2 ATS in its last 10 games overall. Curry is on a groove heading into the showdown with the Lakers, having averaged 37.2 points in his past five starts. In the Warriors’ 113-101 win in the regular-season finale over the Memphis Grizzlies, Curry detonated for 46 points with nine 3-pointers, while Wiggins chipped in 21 points. 

Speaking of Wiggins, he’ll be highly relied upon as another top scoring option for the Warriors, especially with Kelly Oubre still out of commission. Wiggins has stepped it up of late, as he has averaged 23.1 points on 52.4 FG% in his last nine appearances, while also shooting 40% from deep. Curry is going to face plenty of blitz packages from the Lakers, so ball movement will be extra crucial for the Warriors. 

That shouldn’t be much of a problem for Golden State, which finished the regular season tops in assists with 27.7 dimes per contest.

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PREDICTIONS:

Spread:
The Lakers have LeBron and AD back and with Drummond helping on the glass and defense, the Warriors will find it tough to hang with LA. Take the Lakers to win and cover (5.0)

Over/Under:
The Lakers’ defense will be the real hero for the team in this game. Curry will get his points, but he won’t go crazy either, while Wiggins buckle under the pressure. Take the total to hit the Under (220.0).

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