On Wednesday, the Los Angeles Lakers will play the final game of the first half of their regular season schedule. The second half of their regular season schedule will start on March 12, when they’ll host the Indiana Pacers, one of the four Eastern Conference teams they have yet to play this season.
The majority of the games the Lakers will play in the second half of their schedule will be Eastern Conference teams, which might lead one to assume that the second half of their schedule will be easier than the first half. In reality, it’s actually going to be harder.
According to Positive Residual’s strength of schedule breakdown, the Lakers will have the fourth-hardest schedule in the second half after having the second-easiest schedule in the first half. In the month of April alone, they’ll play the LA Clippers, Utah Jazz, Miami Heat and Brooklyn Nets.
One reason for the Lakers' challenging schedule moving forward is that they have 9 games with rest disadvantages, meaning they're playing the second of a back-to-back while their opponent is rested. These 9 rest disadvantages are the most in the NBA (alongside OKC and Toronto). pic.twitter.com/CR6euiaS3o— Positive Residual (@presidual) February 24, 2021
Suffice to say, the road to the No. 1 seed in the West won’t be easy for the Lakers — especially now that they’re 3.5 games behind the Utah Jazz in the standings — but it’s nothing that Frank Vogel is losing sleep over.
“I haven’t really studied the second half of the schedule, but I know every team in the league is playing 72 games, so that’s the only thing that really matters to me when I see schedules coming out,” Vogel said on Wednesday.
That mentality probably has a lot to do with the Lakers view seeding this season. As much as they’d like to have home court advantage in a series, they understand that it might not matter if fans aren’t going to be allowed at Staples Center.
The most important thing for the Lakers going forward will be staying healthy. That means finding rest for guys at the right times and making sure that players that are injured, like Anthony Davis, aren’t rushed back. If they can do that, they have as good of a chance as anyone to win it all.