Lakers: Week 1 predictions

The Lakers open the season playing 4 games in 5 nights against 3 teams that made the playoffs last season

The Lakers open the 2014-15 season with a difficult first week, playing four games in five nights against three teams that made the playoffs last season.

The Phoenix Suns are the exception, just barely missing out on the postseason with a 48-34 record.

The Lakers will play short-handed, starting the season with injuries to Ronnie Price (knee), Wayne Ellington (concussion), Nick Young (thumb), Ryan Kelly (hamstring), Xavier Henry (knee) and Steve Nash (back).

Price and Ellington will probably play this week, although not in the opener against the Houston Rockets.

Tuesday vs. Houston

Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard face off for the first time since they were teammates.  Jeremy Lin battles against the team that traded him away.

According to the NBA's general manager poll, James Harden has eclipsed Bryant as the top shooting guard in the league.  If Bryant is the Lakers' greatest strength, the team will have to find a way to neutralize Harden.

The Rockets will finish with a better record than the Lakers this season, but in a game of emotion expect Howard to struggle with foul trouble, and the Lakers to surprise Houston with an opening-night victory.

Prediction: Lakers

Wednesday at Phoenix Suns

The Lakers gave the Suns a challenge in a recent preseason battle, but playing on the road on the second night of a back-to-back at the Phoenix home-opener?

That's tough.

The Suns' trio of guards (Eric Bledsoe, Goran Dragic and Isaiah Thomas) are too much to deal with.  Phoenix is young, athletic and likely to pin a loss on the Lakers' schedule Wednesday.

Prediction: Suns

Friday vs. Clippers

The Clippers didn't look great through the preseason, but they're going to be one of the top teams in the NBA this year.

The combination of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and Jamal Crawford is more than the Lakers will be able to handle.

The Lakers upset the Clippers last year on opening night, playing without Bryant.  They'll have a difficult time getting a win this week.

Prediction: Clippers

Saturday at Golden State Warriors

The Lakers are going to have a difficult time beating the Warriors all season, let alone on the team's second back-to-back in the first five days of the year.

Golden State simply has too much firepower, starting with guards Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.

It won't be close.

Prediction: Warriors

Email Eric Pincus at eric.pincus@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.

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