NBA experts make their predictions for upcoming Lakers-Warriors series

James Kingsley
13 Min Read

The Los Angeles Lakers are set to face off against the Golden State Warriors in the second round of the NBA Playoffs on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. PST.

It’s the most highly anticipated matchup of the playoffs so far as a 35-year-old Stephen Curry gets to meet a 38-year-old LeBron James for the sixth time in the postseason. The last time these two met, James and company sent the Warriors to a second play-in game where they were knocked out by the Memphis Grizzlies.

This time around things will be a bit different as Curry’s Warriors are fully healthy, and James isn’t dealing with the high ankle sprain that hampered him for most of that 2021 postseason campaign.

Our NBA experts made their predictions on the likely outcome of the series ahead of Game 1.

Peter Dewey: Warriors in 7

Another Stephen Curry versus LeBron James matchup in the playoffs is something that NBA fans have been waiting for since the 2018 NBA Finals.

However, unfortunately for Los Angeles Lakers fans, this series is going to go to Golden State.

These are two veteran teams that have playoff experience, but the defending champs have home-court advantage where they have been dominant all season. The Lakers are also just 11th of 16 teams in effective field-goal percentage this postseason, and the team may not have the bench production to keep up with a better shooting Golden State team.

Golden State has the wing defenders (Andrew Wiggins, Gary Payton II and Donte DiVincenzo) to match up with Los Angeles. Anthony Davis could be the game-changer for the Lakers after posting a plus/minus of plus-69 in the Grizzlies series, but ultimately Curry and the shooting of the Warriors may be too much for the Lakers to overcome.

Jason Simpson: Lakers in 6

Kevon Looney left a huge mark during Golden State’s series against Sacramento, proving that he’s truly one of the most irreplaceable players the Warriors have. He made life extremely tough on Domantas Sabonis and averaged 15.1 boards per game during the series, helping the Warriors close out possessions on defense and get second chances on offense.

But Anthony Davis isn’t Domantas Sabonis, and if Davis plays up to his standards, he should be able to bring Looney back down to Earth. That matchup could go a long way in determining the series.

One factor working in the Warriors’ favor (aside from having Stephen Curry) is the fact that they don’t need to win a road game in order to win this series. That’s a big luxury considering their struggles away from home this season (though it’s worth noting that their road woes weren’t on display at all during their series against the Kings).

But all things considered, it’s hard to pick against the Lakers after what they showed in the first round. This series will almost certainly go six or seven games, but L.A. is peaking at the right time and has the personnel to neutralize some of Golden State’s biggest strengths.

Anthony Davis and LeBron James

Bradford Ahn: Lakers in 7

Barring any significant injures, the greatness of LeBron James is just going to be too much to overcome. One could argue that this is the most complete roster that he’s had in his entire NBA career including his Miami Heat days.

Many were pointing to his age, injury or a combination of the two as reasons for his mediocre showing against the Memphis Grizzlies. However, I firmly believe that he was reserving himself for a series like the one we have on our hands now.

Another factor is going to be the sheer size advantage that the Lakers have. The Warriors’ tallest player is Kevon Looney at 6-foot-9, and he’s expected to man most of the minutes at center for his squad. The Lakers, on the other hand, have Anthony Davis, Rui Hachimura, Jarred Vanderbilt and James, all of who are at least 6-foot-8.

Finally, James is known to get up for games or series when he knows that critics are chirping. In 2016, many were ready to claim Stephen Curry as the best player in the NBA ahead of James after the Warriors finished with a 73-9 record and Curry won the NBA’s first unanimous MVP. James was clearly bothered by that notion and quickly shut it down as he proceeded to dominate not only Curry, but the entire Warriors team en route to his third NBA championship.

Now, many are saying that Curry’s 15-7 playoff record against James is somehow an indictment on his legacy, and the talks are starting to heat up about the point guard even surpassing James on the NBA’s unwritten list of the greatest players of all time. I’m sure the four-time MVP is hearing all the whispers and is ready to shut his doubters up…again.

Jonathan Sherman: Lakers in 6

Heading into this matchup, a lot of experts are discussing Curry’s 15-7 record versus James in the playoffs. Most have failed to mention that his record against James drops down to 7-6 without Kevin Durant. Similarly, Curry has never played against James when he’s had a teammate as dominant as Anthony Davis.

Curry, Klay Thompson and Andrew Wiggins will try to keep this series close with their penchant for big performances in the playoffs, but the defense and versatility on the Lakers roster should win out in the end. Davis will likely lead the way for the Lakers, and he should be able to control things on both sides of the court.

Lakers fans can also expect James to ramp things up another level compared to his sometimes lackadaisical approach in Round 1. If guys like Austin Reaves, D’Angelo Russell and Rui Hachimura can keep lighting up the scoreboard, the Warriors might have difficulty keeping up.

Ryan Ward: Warriors in 6

The stage is set for an epic showdown between the Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors, which has the potential to go the distance with either team coming out on top and advancing to the Western Conference Finals.

However, even though this will be one of the most anticipated postseason series thus far, the Warriors are simply the better team with the best player.

Although Anthony Davis is playing at a high level and making a case as the league’s elite defensive player, Stephen Curry is playing perhaps the best basketball of his NBA career, which was showcased in Game 7 against the Sacramento Kings.

Klay Thompson may not be the same player of old, and Draymond Green certainly has his deficiencies on offense, but this team is playing with a lot of confidence. It will be a classic matchup of two future Hall of Famers, with Curry and LeBron James going head-to-head with legacy padding on the line.

The Lakers will put up a fight in this series and will threaten to advance, but in the end, it’s hard not to bet on this Warriors team that has come through in the postseason time and time again, with Curry leading the way.

Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson

David Akerman: Warriors in 7

I’ve gone back and forth with this pick, but it’s just too tough to bet against Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors. They might have struggled a bit against the Sacramento Kings, but they seem to have fully woken up now.

The Warriors have home-court advantage and more experience under their belt. Those are two other reasons I’m picking them. Chase Center will be rocking all series long. I expect Warriors fans to be even more hyped during games due to facing off against LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers.

If the Lakers stay with what’s become their regular starting lineup, it’s hard to imagine someone like Austin Reaves or D’Angelo Russell guarding Curry. Jarred Vanderbilt could see time on Curry, but that would likely mean having one of Reaves or Russell guard a player considerably taller and bigger than him, like Draymond Green or Andrew Wiggins.

Rui Hachimura and Jordan Poole might be their respective team’s X factors for this series. Neither of them should be forgotten about.

Los Angeles can’t really afford to have any duds from Anthony Davis. If he’s on his game all series long, then the Lakers will have a great shot at moving on. It’ll be interesting to see him go head to head against Kevon Looney, who is coming off a massive series against the Kings.

While I’m picking the Warriors to win in seven, it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest to see the Lakers take this series. With arguably his best supporting cast ever against the Warriors in the playoffs, James will be as motivated as ever to best his biggest rivals.

This series could easily end up being one for the ages.

Justin Benjamin: Lakers in 6

The Lakers are hitting their stride at the perfect time. They’re a completely different team than when they started the year. Davis and James are healthy, playing well on both sides of the floor and are leading with passion. Russell, Reaves, Hachimura and Vanderbilt among others have stepped up and coalesced. They annihilated the No. 2 Grizzlies to close their series in showtime fashion.

While the Warriors have championship pedigree, they’re the most vulnerable they’ve been in the Big 3 era. Thompson didn’t look good in the last couple games of their series. They struggled to top the youthful Kings and have dealt with a plethora of non-basketball issues. It’ll be hard for Curry to bail them out all the time against a experienced, united, starry Lakers team.

Robert Marvi: Warriors in 7

This series could be a classic, not to mention very entertaining, and it will be an interesting matchup between the defending NBA champs and a superstar duo that won the chip very recently (LeBron James and Anthony Davis). While the Lakers have the edge in the paint, Golden State obviously has much more firepower in terms of 3-point shooting.

Both teams want to run, so the series may hinge on which team defends and rebounds better. In the end, the Warriors have been around seemingly forever, while the Lakers are still a somewhat brand-new product. This series could go either way, but I feel the Warriors’ home-court advantage may just put them over the top.

Final tally: Lakers 4, Warriors 4

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James is a Los Angeles native who has been a fan of the Lakers since the Nick Van Exel and Eddie Jones days. He has been writing and editing for over five years now and is excited to bring his skillset to the Lakers Daily team.