The Lakers 116-102 loss to the Cavaliers on Tuesday was hopefully just a pothole within what has otherwise been a speedway back into the playoff race.
Heading into the contest the team was playing their basketball of the early season. Spearheaded by a monstrous stretch from Anthony Davis, the offense has began to click, and the defense has showed enough scrap to help rattle off eight wins in their last ten contests.
However, it only took a few minutes into their game in Cleveland to show how quickly things can nosedive in the NBA. Due to what was reported to be flu-like symptoms, Davis was forced out of the rest of the game, leaving the team without their anchor on both ends of the floor.
Although the final result will undersell how well the shorthanded Lakers did to keep pace with one of the Eastern Conference’s best clubs, the brief glimpse of life without Davis only further examples how critical he is to the team’s chances in multiple facets.
Despite the Cavs making most teams look shorter than usual with their jumbo-sized front court, the Lakers were noticeably battling with an height disadvantage for the majority of the game.
And while Thomas Bryant in particular gave a spirited effort in Davis’ absence, the lack of reliable back-up size, especially on defense, is something that could prove major within the team’s upcoming matchups with the likes of the all-limbs team in Toronto and Joel Embiid on the horizon.
Ultimately, the Lakers still played well — and hard — enough to win. When given the context of having to do so without Davis and shooting just 16.7% from behind the arc, the team should hold their heads up high with the knowledge that they can hang amongst stiff competition even when it’s not their night. This brings us to today's episode.
On this week’s edition of “Talk-O-Tuesday,” hosts Alex Padilla and Alex Regla recapped the Lakers’ loss to the Cavaliers, why there were encouraging takeaways and how Davis’ illness may impact the team in both the short and long term.
The duo also discussed how the game exemplified what continues to be a roster construction issue, and why even a trade on the margins could pay big dividends for a team in need of balance.
And for a short-form recap pod, check out Lakers Lowdown, in which Anthony Irwin recaps the previous day’s news and gets you ready for the day ahead in LakerLand, every weekday morning on the Silver Screen & Roll Podcast feed.