The Lakers are 8-12 through 20 games, which is a shade behind the 10-10 record last season (a record that inspired this post fwiw). All in all, I’d say this Lakers team is about where it should be record wise, even if they’ve gotten there in a way I did not expect (good on defense, bad on offense).
Thing is, we are now seeing some slippage defensively and in the team’s last 5 games they have lost to a bad Suns team, beaten a Nuggets team that lost Jokic (ejected) and Millsap (wrist injury) in the same game, come from behind the beat a bad Bulls team, then lost back to back to two teams that are (record wise) worse than them in the Kings and the Clippers.
So, there’s a strong argument to be made that this team is trending downward right as their schedule is about to become brutal. In 6 of the Lakers next 15 games, they play either the Rockets or the Warriors with games against Philly, Portland, and Minnesota mixed in for fun. This is a terribly difficult portion of the schedule and it starts tonight when the Warriors visit Staples Center.
If you want to hear more bad news, here you go:
And with Nick Young threatening murder and the Warriors coming off a bad loss to the Kings in their last game, this could get ugly early. So, you know, brace yourselves.
If you’re looking for more analysis than that, you’ve come to the wrong place…or, better said, the Warriors don’t really require a lot of high brow analysis or in-depth looks in order to provide insight. They have more great players than you, a great coach, and *tada* that leads to wins.
Except, despite my flair for lingo, there’s actually no magic in any of this. They pummel you with sharp offensive actions and then bury you from behind the arc and are getting their groove back defensively (they’re now up to 6th in the NBA — surpassing the Lakers who have fallen to 7th).
They have lots of depth, adding Young and Omri Casspi on the wing after getting the Chicago Bulls to insanely sell them the draft pick which they turned into Jordan Bell — who is thriving as a back up big man who defends, runs the lane, and dunks on people’s heads. This isn’t the rich getting richer, it’s the 1%’ers becoming 0.01%’ers.
What does this mean for tonight? I mean, what do you think it means? Haha. The Warriors are coming off a bad loss + the Lakers have not been playing well = a tough game to watch for people who root for the Lakers. That’s the math.
If you want a path for the Lakers to win, though, I can pretty much tell you it’s going to take their best offensive game of the year and a return to some of their stingy defensive ways which have gone mostly missing the last half dozen games.
Lonzo, Lopez, KCP, and Kuzma will need to hit lots of shots. Nance will need to create scoring chances on P&R’s by diving hard. Randle will need to find the creases in the defense and finish inside against length and athleticism. Ingram will need to drive relentlessly and not only find avenues to the rim, but finish once there.
Defensively, KCP, Lonzo, and Ingram will need to have their best nights of the year while Randle and Kuzma will need to be masterful on switches. And, as a team, the connectivity of the 5 players and how dialed in they are as helpers will need to be extraordinary. And even if all that is true, on some possessions they’re just going to have to hope the Steph, KD, and Klay miss the shots they’re still capable of hitting even with everyone keyed in on them.
If this sounds like a lot has to go right for the Lakers, that’s the correct interpretation. Don’t get me wrong, the Lakers have done exactly this to the Warriors before. #neverforget
Yeah, here’s hoping for a repeat of that game.
Where you can watch: 7:30pm start on Spectrum Sportsnet and NBA TV.