The San Antonio Spurs (4-1) and the Los Angeles Lakers (4-1) battle on Sunday in the AT&T Center for the top spot in the Western Conference at this early stage of the season. The Spurs are coming off of a road win against the depleted Golden State Warriors, while the Lakers latest game was a hard-fought overtime victory over the Mavericks in Dallas.
After losing their first game of the season, L.A. has won four straight and they look like a force to be reckoned with. LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the top two active leaders in PER and second and third in NBA history (behind only Michael Jordan), are both playing outstanding basketball. Needless to say, having James and Davis gives the Lakers a realistic shot at winning a championship this year.
Beyond those two superstar, the Lakers have also gotten great production from former Spurs guard Danny Green. To start the 2019-20 campaign, the 32-year-old is averaging a career-high 12.8 points per game on 48.9% shooting from the floor. Green has also nailed 15-of-30 three-point attempts in L.A.’s first two games.
San Antonio Spurs Injury News
Dejounte Murray sat out the contest against the Warriors due to load management. He will start for the Spurs at point guard against the Lakers. Everyone else is healthy for San Antonio.
Los Angeles Lakers Injury News
Kyle Kuzma played his first game of the season in the Lakers game against the Mavs. He’s expected to play in San Antonio. Rajon Rondo, though, will miss the game with a calf injury.
San Antonio Spurs Starting Lineup Watch
Murray will move into the starting lineup and Derrick White will go to the bench. Trey Lyles has started all season next to LaMarcus Aldridge and that should be the case again on Sunday. If Lyles doesn’t get the start, it’d be because head coach Gregg Popovich wants Jakob Poeltl in his opening five in order to match the Los Angeles’ size. However, since Davis is so mobile, it’s more likely that Lyles will continue to start because he offers more mobility than Poeltl.
Los Angeles Lakers Starting Lineup Watch
In Kuzma’s return, he came off the bench. The Lakers went with a starting lineup of James, Davis, Green, Avery Bradley and JaVale McGee. Most likely, L.A. will start that same starting lineup against the Spurs, however it’s possible that the Lakers could go even bigger and start Kuzma in place of Bradley.
Spurs vs. Lakers – Key Matchups
How are the Spurs going to defend James? While it’s possible that their defensive ace Murray gets a crack at him, it’s more likely that Popovich will defend James like he did Kawhi Leonard. That would mean DeMar DeRozan will begin on James.
If Lyles starts, Davis will be by far his biggest challenge of this young season. So far, Lyles has stayed out of foul trouble and hasn’t been a liability on the defensive end, while being a surprisingly great rebounder. If he can impress in his matchup against Davis, Lyles could begin cementing his spot in the starting lineup.
On paper, the Lakers have the strong advantage when comparing starting lineups, while the Spurs look to be the deeper team. For San Antonio to come out victorious, the Spurs bench is going to have to have a big game in front of the home fans.
Spurs vs. Lakers – Prediction
Oddsmakers are favoring the Spurs by a point over the Lakers, with the Spurs winning by a final score of 110-109. I see a higher scoring game than that. If the Spurs shoot well and win the battle of the benches, I think they can come out on top.
San Antonio Spurs – 121
Los Angeles Lakers – 115