It’s only been eight days since we’ve seen the Los Angeles Lakers play in an NBA game, but it feels like its been a month. We’ve seen a couple of the players on the roster play in events — like Dwight Howard in the Slam Dunk contest and LeBron James and Anthony Davis in the 2020 NBA All-Star game — but it just wasn’t the same.
The standings haven’t changed since we last left off, though. The Lakers are sitting at the top of the Western Conference with a record of 41-12. The Denver Nuggets are currently the second seed in the conference, and are four games back of the Lakers. With that type of lead in front of the other top team in their conference, the Lakers — barring any serious injuries — should have the first seed just about locked up.
The Lakers surged into the break on a three-game winning streak, beating the Golden State Warriors, Phoenix Suns and the aforementioned Nuggets. But as it’s been noted despite that record, from watching them play, it was clear this veteran filled team really needed this break. Hopefully with this eight day rest, the Lakers are ready to go out there and dominate the rest of the regular season.
The Lakers will start their post All-Star break stretch run by going up against the Memphis Grizzlies. The Lakers are 2-0 against the Grizzlies this season, winning by an average of 20 points, which is good news, since the Grizzlies are currently the eighth seed in the Western Conference. If the playoffs were to start today, the Lakers would be playing them in the first round.
As Ric Lampkins pointed out to me on our podcast, if the Lakers were to lose today’s game, it wouldn’t exactly be the worst thing in the world. Obviously, you’d rather have the Lakers win than lose, but if they did lose, it would make it harder for the Portland Trail Blazers (9th seed) to get the eighth seed, which in my opinion would be a much harder opponent for the Lakers than the Grizzlies. The Grizzlies are young and hungry, but the Blazers have a ton of veterans on the team. Also, you never want to face Damian Lillard in the playoffs, ever.
Still, the Grizzlies are a threat for tonight mainly because of their young stars like Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. They’ve gone 9-3 in their last twelve games, and fans can probably thank Andre Iguodala poking the baby bears for at least a few of those victories.
Morant has lead the team in those games, averaging 16.9 points per game, but he has also averaged a 3-point percentage of 17.4% in those 12 games, so the best way to defend him tonight would be to force him into taking threes instead of allowing him to attack the basket.
However the Lakers defend Morant or any of the other Grizzlies, though, this All-Star break was clearly very necessary for this veteran filled team, and hopefully it gave the Lakers the rest they needed to not only get the win tonight and start a four-game winning streak, but to finish off the regular season strong.
We’ll get our first look at how they start their final run to the postseason tonight.
Notes and Updates
- Anthony Davis (sprained right index finger) is probable to play tonight.
- Talen Horton-Tucker, Devontae Cacok, and Kostas Antetokounmpo are all on assignment with the South Bay Lakers.
- Frank Vogel said earlier that DeMarcus Cousins is “on track” for a return by the playoffs, but he and LeBron James preached patience at practice on Thursday.
- LeBron for president? Cousins likes the idea, but LeBron himself says he has no plans to run.
The Lakers will tip off against the Grizzlies at 7:30 p.m. PST at Staples Center. The game will be televised locally on Spectrum SportsNet.