Last summer, the Los Angeles Lakers transitioned from a young and inexperienced team to a battle-tested veteran team, and no one on the roster has gone to battle in the playoffs more than LeBron James. In fact, no one in NBA history has logged more minutes in the postseason than James.
But James doesn’t think his 13 years of playoff experience holds much weight in Orlando, where everyone is navigating uncharted waters.
“This is a totally different situation than any other situation that I’ve been in in my career,” James said after the Lakers’ loss to the Houston Rockets on Thursday. “I have zero experience with having the No. 1 seed inside of a bubble during seeding games playing in August. So, this is all a learning experience for all of us and we’re going to take it day-by-day and continue to work on our habits, either on the floor, during the film session, when we’re able to get on the floor as well. But this is a totally different season, a totally different drastic situation for all of us, including myself.”
Even JaVale McGee, who won his second consecutive NBA championship just two years ago, isn’t sure what intangibles he can offer the Lakers in the postseason now that things have changed so much.
“Winning the championship is really the only thing I can bring over from the Warriors just because it’s a whole different situation,” McGee said on Sunday. “No one really has home court advantage. This is like a three-month road trip. It’s just different — like, really, really different — not being in your bed or in your own routine. It’s different.”
Technically, they’re not wrong. I mean, the NBA’s slogan for the restart is literally “It’s a Whole New Game.” That doesn’t mean the experience that James and his teammates have in the postseason won’t still be somewhat beneficial to the team though.
There is a level of focus that it takes to succeed in the postseason, and Danny Green believes the Lakers’ veterans that have competed at the highest level can help their less experienced teammates stay locked in. Beyond that, he says it’s on everyone to come prepared and execute the game plan that Frank Vogel and his coaching staff draw up.
“It’s tough to prepare or use that type of experience to this type of experience because we’ve never been in something like this before,” Green said on Sunday. “But at the end of the day, the thing we have to focus on is just basketball. It’s a game, we know how to play it, we use our strengths and try to focus on that. Play to those, and also focus on other team’s weaknesses and make them play to those.”
The Lakers will begin their quest for their 17th title next week. Hopefully, when the time comes, they won’t look like the fish that players have been catching on the docks at the Walt Disney World Resort.