2 Keys to Victory for Lakers’ Must-Win

Mark J. Terrill/AP

The 17-19 Los Angeles Lakers face the hometown rival Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday night. 

LA is in the midst of an ugly four-game losing streak, with back-to-back losses at home versus the Miami Heat and Memphis Grizzlies. Poor performances have become a pattern for this Lakers team, who are just 3-10 since their In-Season-Tournament win. 

On the flip side, the Clippers are relishing their new superstar, James Harden, as the team has played tremendously since his acquisition. On a five-game winning streak, the 22-12 Clippers sit as the fourth seed in the West. 

The Clippers seem to be polar opposites when it comes to momentum; however, with the Lakers in desperate need of a win and the Clippers potentially due for a loss, let’s dive into our two keys to victory for the Lakers to grab this one at home. 

Offensive Rebounding 

At the crux of the Lakers' poor performance in the last 13 games has been their inability to crash the boards on the offensive end. At 7.9, the LakeShow is dead last in the association in offensive rebounds per game, with a third-worst offensive rebounding percentage of 24.1%. 

This lack of offensive rebounding production has led to a lack of second-chance opportunities, which ultimately limits potential offensive production. The Lakers are shooting 89.4 field goals per game, sitting in the bottom half of the league in this category.

If the Lakers were to shoot the basketball more efficiently, they would have the luxury of being able to get away with this absence of volume, yet they don’t.

The Lakers are middle of the pack at best when it comes to shooting the basketball, shooting 48.3% from the field and 36.6% from three in their last 13.

Without high-efficiency offensive basketball, the Lakers must do everything they can to provide consistent opportunities for offensive production to hang with the Clippers throughout this game. 

Defend the 3-Pointer

If you’ve tuned into Lakers basketball recently, you’ve likely recognized that they make opposing players look like prime Stephen Curry with how poorly they defend the three-ball.

In the last 13 games, the Lakers average the most three-pointers made per game against them at 15.8, to pair with the third-worst opposing three-point percentage of 41.8%.

They’re coming off a night where they let up 23 three-pointers on 51.8% 3P%.That is historically bad.

The Clippers are a great 3P% shooting team. In their last 13, they have shot a second-best 41% from the three-point range and made the seventh most per game at 14.1.

They prefer to do so in isolation, making a league-high 25.6% of their three-pointers unassisted.

If the Lakers can focus on contesting their one-on-one assignments, they may curb the Clippers' three-point production and find themselves keeping up in this one. 

The Lakers are 1-0 against the Clippers this season, and if they can focus on rebounding the basketball and defending the Clippers’ isolation three-point attempts, they may find themselves up 2-0 in this cross-town rivalry.

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