On paper, the Lakers schedule to start of the season was rather favorable, particularly in the location of the contests. Through the team’s first 15 games, the Lakers have left Los Angeles just three times, and have had only one instance of consecutive road games.
Wednesday marks the beginning of the team’s first lengthy road trip of the season, and it will be a true test of where the Lakers are at, as it begins with a stop against the defending champion Bucks. Perhaps equally important, though, is that it provides the team a chance to bond on the road together for the first time this season as well.
“We welcome the road trip,” said head coach Frank Vogel after Monday’s loss to the Bulls. “It will be good for us. We’ve been struggling, a little bit up-and-down, we’re fighting for consistency, and a change in environment should be good for us.”
The veteran-laden roster is familiar with how influential and impactful road trips can be off the court as well as on the court. After getting used to the comfort of home, going on the road forces teams out of that comfort zone.
“It just creates more togetherness, cohesiveness and finding ways to lean on each other,” said Russell Westbrook. “We know on the road you’re going against the (opposing) crowd, so you have no choice but to lean on each other. If you don’t, you don’t have a chance to win.”
After Wednesday’s game, the Lakers will travel to Boston, Detroit, New York and will wrap up the trip in Indiana the night before Thanksgiving. It’ll be a trip littered with competitive teams that will test this group, but LeBron James’ imminent return should provide a big boost on the court while the travel and time together will provide that off-court boost.
“The road is definitely a place for us where our bonding has to come together,” said Talen Horton-Tucker. “The whole team’s camaraderie has to gel a little bit more on the road and we’re going to just be with each other, so we have no other choice but to try and get that chemistry up. So we’re just going to try and get better from here, get better every day.”
After starts and stops this season, the road trip could prove to be a catalyst that sparks this team and takes them out of their inconsistent, struggling ways. It could be the start of the transition into the consistent, dominant force the front office and coaching staff envisions this team to be.