Western Conference coach predicts huge free-throw disparity in favor of Lakers vs. Warriors

Brad Sullivan
3 Min Read

One NBA coach believes that the Los Angeles Lakers’ upset hopes against the Golden State Warriors could hinge on their ability to get to the free-throw line.

The anonymous Western Conference assistant coach explained to Sports Illustrated why the Warriors’ apparent edge in the series could be negated by the Lakers’ trips to the foul line.

“It’s going to be really interesting to see,” said the coach. “First of all, I think they’re significantly better than the Lakers. Probably the biggest obstacle for them is overcoming the likely free throw disparity. The Lakers just kill teams going to the line a million times. Golden State’s rim protection isn’t great. The Lakers are going to take a ton of shots at the rim and when they shoot it well, they usually win.”

The Warriors enter the best-of seven series as the favorites after emerging from a tough seven-game series against the Sacramento Kings. In contrast, the Lakers are coming off a six-game upset of the Memphis Grizzlies after struggling for most of the regular season.

Despite those struggles, the Lakers did make a habit of drawing fouls. During the regular season, they led the league in free-throw attempts per game with 26.6.

On the other hand, the Warriors ended the regular season last among 30 teams in that category. Their number was just 20.2 per game.

That difference of 6.4 attempts per game could spell the difference in any close contest. A Lakers win on the Warriors’ home court could also change the trajectory of the series and would give them home-court advantage.

However, the Warriors have a weapon that the Lakers lack in the area of 3-point shooting. During the 2022-23 regular season, the Warriors led the league by connecting on 16.6 3-pointers per game.

The Lakers do have players that can connect from beyond the arc. Yet, the team as a whole isn’t as prolific as the Warriors after finishing near the bottom of the league in the regular season with 10.8 3-pointers per contest.

Still, the long journey the Lakers have taken to get to this point offers hope that they can pull off an upset. One major key the assistant coach pointed to in forging an upset is keeping Stephen Curry in check.

Curry went wild on Sunday with 50 points, a performance the Lakers can’t allow to happen if they want to win.

Of course, conjecture and predictions don’t win games. Beginning on Tuesday night, the two teams will decide the series on the court.

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Brad is a freelance writer for LakersDaily.com, who can clearly recall watching Lakers games in 1972 as they captured the first of their 11 Los Angeles-based titles. The franchise's evolution into a beloved and iconic franchise among its fan base since that memorable year allows for a wider perspective to be a part of his writing about the team's current fortunes.