Although one might consider the Los Angeles Lakers’ storied rivalry with the Boston Celtics (or with the Clippers, their fellow Los Angeles foe) to be their biggest, the Lakers matchups that most seem to captivate fans’ attention — at least, in the past few years — is when they play the Golden State Warriors. There are obvious reasons for this: both teams are at the top of the Western Conference, include some of the game’s biggest superstars, and are each based in California. And while intrigue for this matchup has existed for decades, the Western Conference Semifinals matchup between these two teams in 2023 has renewed this rivalry once more. But who will finish the 2024 season on top?
In this article, we’ll discuss the head to head history of the Lakers and Warriors, the background to their rivalry, their most notable past matchups, and what the games between these two teams might look like in 2023-24.
Lakers vs Warriors Head to Head History
The Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors franchises have faced each other a total of 476 times. Of these, the Lakers hold the all-time edge in wins, 290-186. The Lakers have also dominated postseason games against the Warriors, winning 29 games to Golden State’s 13.
The first matchup between these franchises was on November 28, 1948, which the Lakers won 88-67. Most recently, these teams faced each other on May 12, 2023 — which the Lakers also won by 21 points, 122-101. The next Warriors and Lakers game will take place on January 27, 2024.
The Lakers hold the longest win streak in this series, having beat the Warriors 12 straight times at one point.
Lakers vs Warriors Rivalry Background
In terms of Northern California vs. Southern California sports rivalries, this one between the Lakers and Warriors is quite tame. While the baseball rivalry between the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers, along with the football rivalry between the San Francisco 49ers and the Los Angeles Rams are fueled by intense hatred (and have resorted to brutal violence in the past), the Lakers and Warriors rivalry is rooted in respect.
Both of these teams also migrated to California at similar times, with the Lakers franchise coming to Los Angeles from Minneapolis in 1960, and the Warriors franchise coming to the San Francisco Bay Area from Philadelphia in 1962. Due to this, the Lakers and Warriors have been competing in the same California market for over sixty years. While there’s much California market space to be had (and which has been acquired) by each team, this has also been a noteworthy source of this rivalry.
Historically, the Lakers have dominated this series. They have won all but one of their playoff series, including the last eight. Plus, the Lakers’ 17 NBA championships dwarfs that of the Warriors, who have seven (which is still third best in the NBA, after the Lakers and Celtics.)
Although the Warriors’ incredible success in the past decade — much of which came when the Lakers were one of the league’s worst teams — has evened the playing field some. And now, both teams are championship contenders; which set the stage for a memorable playoff matchup one season ago.
Lakers vs Warriors Notable Past Matchups
The Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors squared off in the 2023 Western Conference Semifinals. During game 1, which took place in San Francisco, Anthony Davis’ sensational 30 point, 23 rebound performance propelled the Lakers to defeat the Warriors on the road, by a score of 117-112.
But the Warriors responded in a big way at home during Game 2. Led by a surprising 35 point outburst by Andrew Wiggins (complimented by 28 points from Klay Thompson and 24 from Steph Curry), the Warriors routed the Lakers, 127-100, and evened the series.
Then the teams traveled to Los Angeles for Game 3. Once again, Anthony Davis (who the Warriors always struggle to defend, because they have nobody who can match his size and athleticism) led the Lakers by scoring 25 points, along with grabbing 13 rebounds. LeBron James added 21 points, as did DeAngelo Russell (who has played for both the Warriors and the Lakers), and the Lakers beat the Warriors by the widest margin all series, 127-97.
Game 4 of this Western Conference Semifinals series was the most exciting. Still in Los Angeles, the Lakers and Warriors battled back in forth in an extremely evenly matched game, with there being 14 lead changes and 10 ties throughout. Despite Steph Curry scoring 31 points, however, the Lakers — boosted by LeBron James’ 27 point, 9 rebound, and 6 assist performance — edged the Warriors in the end, by a score of 104-101.
Down 3-1 in the series and with their backs against the wall, the Warriors returned to their home court for Game 5. Once again, Andrew Wiggins came up big for Golden State, scoring 25 points along with Curry scoring 27; allowing the Warriors to win Game 5, 121-106.
Game 6 returned to Los Angeles, and the Lakers were determined not to head back to the San Francisco Bay Area for a winner-take-all Game 7. As he has done so many times before, LeBron James put the Lakers on his back and scored 30 points — which led to the Lakers beating the Warriors 122-101. This ended the Warriors’ 2022-23 season, and sent the Lakers on to the Western Conference Finals (which they lost to the Denver Nuggets.)
Lakers vs Warriors 2023-24 Matchup Analysis
With each team’s superstars now reaching the twilight of their careers, the Warriors and Lakers shared reign atop the Western Conference appears to be gradually coming to an end. Yet, the time of their demise isn’t here just yet. Each of these teams enter the 2023-24 season healthy, and with their rosters intact (and improved, in Golden State’s case.)
The Warriors and Lakers will play each other four times next season, all in 2024: January 27 (at Golden State), February 22 (at Golden State), March 16 (at Los Angeles), and April 9 (at Los Angeles); all of which will be broadcast on national television.
So while it’s difficult to predict which of these two juggernauts will reign supreme this season, let’s try to enjoy the greatness of the Lakers and Warriors — specifically, that of LeBron James and Steph Curry — while they’re still around. We’ll miss them when they’re gone.
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