The NBA world has been blessed with one of the most compelling second-round series in a very long time as the Golden State Warriors take on the Los Angeles Lakers. What’s not to love about a Stephen Curry-LeBron James grudge match with legacy points on the line?

Before the punches begin to fly, the question remains: which team has the edge entering the series? While either side winning out won’t surprise the neutral observer, there are a handful of reasons why the Warriors have a leg up over their purple and gold rivals.

Here are three (3) reasons why Stephen Curry’s Warriors will beat LeBron James’s Lakers as the teams face off in the 2023 NBA Playoffs:

3. Stephen Curry is the clear best player in the series.

Basketball isn’t rocket science. There’s been an increased emphasis on advanced stats and efficiency like never before but at the end of the day it still often comes down to who has the best player. The Golden State Warriors have that in Stephen Curry.

LeBron James and Anthony Davis can put on spectacular performances in their own right, but are either of them capable of putting the Lakers on their back like Curry did in Game 7 against the Sacramento Kings on the road?

Perhaps LeBron from five years ago could match him step for step. The 2023 version however might need to catch a breather or two in order to keep up with the Warriors point guard down the stretch of games.

There’s a good chance this series could go to six or seven games. When that happens, Golden State has the ultimate trump card to throw at their California neighbors.

2. Warriors own much more defensive versatility.

The Lakers had a much-improved defense after All-Star Weekend following a complete revamp of their supporting cast around LeBron and AD. They rose from 18th in defensive rating to 4th following the break while being exceptional at defending the three-point line with opponents shooting just 33.5 percent in those final 23 games of the season.

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But as Golden State proved with their putrid road record during the regular season once the playoffs rolled around, regular season numbers don’t always carry over to the postseason. That applies exponentially to keeping the greatest shooter of all time from feasting off the perimeter.

The Lakers had a ton of success stopping a Ja Morant-led offense with his primary mode of attack being paint points being deterred by the 4.3 blocks per game Anthony Davis had in their series. But a flipped focus to outside shooting would be a vastly different problem to solve. Los Angeles’ backcourt rotation in the first round consisted of D’Angelo Russell, Austin Reaves, Dennis Schroder, and Malik Beasley. None of whom really evoke confidence in being able to bother Curry all that much.

On the flip side, the Warriors have several decent options to throw at LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Just like with Curry, it will be impossible to slow them down completely. But they do have two elite defensive options in Andrew Wiggins and Draymond Green that can conceivably match up well with Bron and AD. Then there’s role player extraordinaire in Kevon Looney to bang in the paint as well as a couple of wings with size in Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody to provide different looks at James.

Golden State didn’t even shoot well in the first round against the Kings with a rough 32.8 percent clip from deep across seven games and still won. It’s hard to imagine them shooting that badly twice in a row.

1. LeBron James’s mileage will be tested more than ever.

LeBron is no stranger to extended playoff runs. After all, he’s the only player in NBA history to breach the 10,000-minute mark in postseason play. His 11,258 minutes is more than double Steph Curry’s 5,273 for their respective careers so it’s tough to question his endurance.

But it’s one thing to beat a Memphis Grizzlies team down a few key players, especially after Dillon Brooks continued to light a fire under the Lakers all series. It’s another to topple the defending champion Warriors in what’s likely going to be a long series.

King James’s last deep playoff run was the Lakers’ 2020 bubble championship three years ago when he was 35 – the same age his Warriors adversary is now. He’s now 38 years old with a first-round exit in 2021 and no postseason action at all last year. Time and again LeBron James has defied the laws of aging that most of us mere mortals abide by. But against Golden State, he’s surely going to have to play at peak performance more than he’s had for a long time.

It won’t surprise observers if the Lakers star manages to do it once again, but at the same time the idea of him to hitting his usual playoff gear isn’t a foregone conclusion like it was in in years past.

At the end of the day, either side has a decent shot of advancing to the Western Conference Finals. The real winners are the fans who get to watch the drama unfold.