Lakers' forward outlines enormity of pivotal meeting with Warriors

Los Angeles Lakers v Golden State Warriors
Los Angeles Lakers v Golden State Warriors / Lachlan Cunningham/GettyImages

Given both still hold hope of playoff action, Saturday's meeting between the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Lakers takes on more importance than perhaps any previous game the two teams have played this season.

The Lakers sit ninth in the Western Conference with a 36-31 record, while the Warriors are one game behind in 10th at 34-31. Every matchup between the two teams has the potential to be a blockbuster, but this one is even more so given the stakes on offer.

Stephen Curry and Draymond Green are expected to return for the Golden State Warriors against the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday

A loss for Golden State and they can almost kiss their chances of the eight-seed goodbye, while it would also increase the likelihood of having to win two Play-In games on the road in order to make the postseason.

This is essentially a playoff game, at least that's how Lakers' forward Rui Hachimura described it in an interview with ESPN's Dave McMenamin on Friday.

"It's going to be a big game, it's almost a playoff game. We played them so many times I feel like -- the preseason, the playoffs and regular-season games, all that. So, we know each other well."

Rui Hachimura
Rui Hachimura, Stephen Curry
Los Angeles Lakers v Golden State Warriors / Ezra Shaw/GettyImages

The teams have played twice this season, both at Chase Center. The first was a classic duel between Stephen Curry and LeBron James, with the latter only just getting the better with two clutch free-throws to give his team a 145-144 victory.

Golden State responded with a 128-110 win immediately after the All-Star break, though that was with James sitting on the sidelines. Saturday's game should see all the stars on display, even if there's been some injury issues on both sides.

Curry is expected to return for the Warriors after a three-game absence due to an ankle injury, having been listed as questionable on the injury report. So too is Draymond Green after the veteran forward missed Wednesday's defeat against the Mavericks in Dallas.

James is also questionable for the Lakers, while Anthony Davis is probable as he deals with an achilles issue. Saturday's meeting will be the last of a four-game road-trip for the Warriors ahead of a three-game home-stand.