By losing to the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday, the Los Angeles Lakers also lost their tiebreaker with Dallas, meaning that if both teams finish the regular season with identical records, the Mavericks will own the higher of the two seeds.
The Lakers will try and avoid that scenario altogether, but the gap between them and the Mavericks is only 1.5 games and Dallas has the second-easiest remaining schedule, according to Tankathon. Suffice to say, these last 12 games will be important.
If the Lakers do fall another spot in the Western Conference, they’ll draw a tougher opponent — likely the Phoenix Suns, LA Clippers or Utah Jazz — in the first round, but Anthony Davis doesn’t think the Lakers will be the underdogs in any series they play in and he explained why in a recent interview with Rachel Nichols of ESPN:
“No matter where we fall, we know that we’re capable of still winning a championship. Injuries played a part for us this season but we always say: it just makes it a lot sweeter at the end, to go through something like this. I’d put us up against anyone. I don’t think no one wants to see in the first round. I know the type of team that we have and I know what we can do. I think we’re capable of beating anyone in a seven-games series.”
Assuming LeBron James returns sooner rather than later and both he and Davis can shake the majority of their rust off before the start of the postseason, that’s not a bad bet.
Sure, there are questions that still need to be answered, like how Andre Drummond fits next to James and Davis and where guys like Markieff Morris, Wesley Matthews and Marc Gasol fit into Frank Vogel’s rotation, but this is LeBron James and Anthony Davis we’re talking about. Last season, they averaged a combined 55.3 points, 20.5 points, 12.3 assists, 2.4 steals 2.3 blocks per game in the postseason. They were incredible.
The Lakers weren’t too bad when James and Davis were healthy this season either. Prior to Davis’ injury, the Lakers were the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference with the No. 1-ranked defense.
Again, there are plenty of reasons to be skeptical about this team, most of which are related to their health and chemistry, but as long as James and Davis are healthy, it’s hard to count them out.