The Lakers continue their three game road trip tonight in Washington, just a night after beating the Pistons in Detroit. That game saw a tired and flu-ridden Kobe rely heavily on his teammates and a nice third quarter burst of his own to win the game and bring the Lakers record to 5 and 14 on the season. Of those 5 wins, 4 are against the Eastern Conference and 3 of them are on the road.
Which means, tonight, against the Wizards in Washington the Lakers are sure to win. Yeah, not so much.
I know I’ve said this a lot this season, but the Lakers are pretty outclassed in this match up. The Wizards are one of the more balanced teams in the league, showing out well on both sides of the ball with deep roster. They currently boast the the 2nd best record in the conference and have enough talent on their team to make it so they will be in the mix at the top of the conference until the end of the season — health permitting.
In other words, the Lakers are in for a severe challenge and any expectation about this game remaining close is likely just wishful thinking. In their core four players of John Wall, Bradley Beal, Nene, and Marcin Gortat the Wizards have advantages at nearly every position save in Kobe’s match up with Beal. When you add to this that Paul Pierce is their 5th starter, the Lakers are going to struggle to keep pace with this team and will likely find themselves in disadvantageous positions all over the floor trying to defend this group.
I could go on and on with this, but in it’s most simply explained by the fact that the Lakers really don’t have anyone who can stay with John Wall for an entire game. And if Wall is able to break loose, it’s only a matter of time before the rest of the team follows. Mind you, the rest of the team is good enough to get their own without Wall drawing extra defensive attention and getting his own offense going, but with Wall attacking Lin and Price for most of the night, those other guys are very likely to feast on a lot of open looks.
This is where I’d normally say that the Lakers’ offense would need to step up. And while that’s true, I have my doubts about it actually happening in this game. As noted at the top, this is the Lakers 2nd game in as many nights and a road game. Plus, with Kobe not 100% physically, their will be an over reliance on other players to step up and play well. That worked last night against the Pistons…but that was the Pistons. They’re awful. The Wizards are decidedly not and have good defensive players all over the floor to give the Lakers’ issues. Of course the Lakers can still get theirs and hitting some contested shots will go a long way in closing the talent gap (ask the Raptors), but it is certainly a lot to ask for.
So, sorry to be a downer folks. I know the Lakers are feeling good coming off two straight wins. But I’ve a feeling tonight, all factors considered, ends up being too tough a match up for the Lakers to overcome.
Where you can watch: 4pm start time on TWC Sportsnet. Also listen on ESPN Radio 710AM.