The Los Angeles Lakers organization and fan base have their fingers crossed as the team gets ready for a fairly huge game at home against the Minnesota Timberwolves. To avoid re-aggravating his twice-injured hand, it might make more sense for Rajon Rondo to roll with some other lucky habit as everyone awaits the decision on whether he’ll play.
It really says something about how frustrating injuries have been this season that it feels like a game with major playoff implications heading into the trade deadline kind of hinges on whether or not Rondo might suit up for what would be his 15th game of the year. But really, whether or not he goes has a major ripple effect across the board.
For Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma, whenever Rondo is on the court, they get pushed into more natural roles offensively. Ingram gets to attack rotating defenses and Kuzma gets to take advantage of tertiary developments rather than having to create some of his own shots as he has the last few games.
Rondo’s return will also benefit Josh Hart, for reasons our own Pete Zayas (aka Laker Film Room) detailed in this video:
One concern with Rondo potentially coming back will be spacing. He already isn’t a particularly willing shooter and, given how few shots he’s been able to put up this season after having significantly injured his shooting hand twice, he’ll likely be even worse (and more hesitant) in that regard in his first few games back.
Still, it isn’t like the Lakers have lit the world on fire as shooters anyway, so it’s a problem they’re used to dealing with.
Speaking of shooting, Luke Walton made the decision to hold shootaround Thursday morning at Staples Center. I actually really like this decision.
Luke Walton’s response to the Lakers electing to have shootaround at #STAPLES Center as opposed to the practice facility— Lauren A. Jones (@LoJoMedia) January 24, 2019
“We gotta make shots, free throws” pic.twitter.com/Q5n8Jr3rYc
The definition of insanity is repeating the same action and hoping for a different result, so it’s nice to see the Lakers change things up a bit, and see if added familiarity with the rims in their home arena can help their shooting. It almost certainly can’t hurt, and as Walton says in the video above, he thinks it could have a psychological benefits, and said it was something Phil Jackson used to do occasionally.
As far as Minnesota goes, their bigs are the kind that really give the Lakers issues. Karl-Anthony Towns is shooting 37 percent from three this season and, because of how the Lakers defend pick-and-rolls, he’ll likely have plenty of opportunity from out there. If he or any other of the Wolves’ other forwards or centers get hot from distance, the Lakers are in trouble.
Both teams really need this win, too. The Lakers have a couple winnable games in a row before the schedule once again gets tougher, and Minnesota doesn’t want to fall any further down the playoff race as the trade deadline approaches.
Tip-off Thursday night is 7:30 p.m. PST, and the game will be televised nationally on TNT.
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