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Lakers vs. Wizards Preview: Avoiding the one step back

Barring an absence from LeBron James — who’s listed as “questionable” — the Lakers should be able to take care of business vs. the Wizards if they bring their effort from Milwaukee with them.

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Washington Wizards v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

You know how the saying goes: “Two steps forward, one step back.”

It’s a saying used in all walks of life while evaluating performance, with the expression especially popular in sports when talking about a team that had a negative outing after a string of positive ones coming before it.

Many of the fabled Los Angeles Lakers teams in the franchise’s history have suffered these types of stepbacks, with most of them impossible to remember through the trophies, accolades, and fallen streamers that they have experienced throughout the decades.

However, with these 9-12 Lakers now a quarter of the way through their season, “two steps forward, one step back” cannot happen anymore. They need to take advantage of every realistic opportunity in front of them, especially after they seize wins that were thought to be impossible beforehand like they did on Friday night in the 133-129 win on the road against the Bucks.

After handily beating the Trail Blazers before that victory against the Bucks, they’ll now look to make it three-in-a-row on Sunday against the Washington Wizards with the afternoon game serving as the second of the six game road trip the team currently finds themselves on.

No excuses

Heading into the road trip, the game against the Wizards definitely seemed like a better opportunity to secure a win when compared to Friday’s game vs. the Bucks. Even with that estimation, given the fact that the Lakers were 8-12 heading into Friday, many would have been smart to think that nothing was ever guaranteed for the Lakers. Whether they’re playing the Wizards, Pistons, Rockets, Spurs, or any of the other teams in the Association that are perceived to be at the bottom-of-the-barrel.

Things have changed.

Despite the Wizards owning a superior 11-12 record, the Lakers should now be favored after throttling the Bucks and their second-ranked defensive rating to the tune of 133 points. The challenges to the Lakers’ offense will be night-and-day when comparing the Bucks to the Wizards, as Washington currently owns the 18th-ranked defensive rating in the league.

Anthony Davis should be able to continue his dominance against the likes of Kristaps Porzingis and Daniel Gafford, if he was able to score a season-high 44 points against two candidates for Defensive Player of the Year in Giannis Antetokounmpo and Brook Lopez.

LeBron James and Russell Westbrook (facing off against his former team on Sunday) should be able to help Davis out yet again on Sunday after being able to facilitate the Lakers’ offense to the tune of 22 assists and 0 turnovers on Friday.

The Lakers had plenty of excuses for dropping a game against the Milwaukee Bucks. However, now that they’ve shown they can take a punch from that team, in that building, against that Greek Freak... they have no excuses for a loss against the Wizards. That is the case as long as LeBron is able to play through the soreness in his ankle that will come as a result of a play on Friday in which Khris Middleton fell awkwardly onto his leg.

If they even play at a level that is 75% of the effort they gave on Friday, the Lakers should be able to start off 2-0 on this six-game road trip. And by doing that, they’ll avoid the dreaded “Two steps forward, one step back.”

Notes and Updates

  • Speaking of LeBron’s ankle, it turns out that he will not be guaranteed to appear in this game. He is listed as questionable (left ankle soreness). Anthony Davis is probable (lower back tightness).
  • Dennis Schroder is listed as questionable on the injury report after missing the Bucks game due to the recent birth of his child. The questionable status at least shows that he will re-join the team at some point during this road trip, however, an appearance Sunday is not yet guaranteed.
  • Scotty Pippen Jr. and Cole Swider are out (with the South Bay Lakers).
  • At this time, the Washington Wizards’ injury report has not been submitted. We will try and be sure to update this post later when it is submitted.

The Lakers and Wizards will tip off at 3 p.m. PT. The game will be televised on Spectrum SportsNet.

For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Donny on Twitter at @donny_mchenry.

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