From pretty much the moment Lakers raised the In-Season Tournament trophy, it’s largely been downhill for the team. With the exception of perhaps the win over the Thunder, the Lakers have been trending in the wrong direction for the final half of December, finishing with just three wins in their final 11 games after winning in Las Vegas.
The schedule was hardly forgiving either. The added trip to Vegas led to multiple lengthy road trips and minimal nights back home. By the end of the month, it certainly looked like it took it’s toll as the Lakers looked to be running on empty.
The balanced nature of the NBA’s schedule, though, means that a rough January has to lead to a kind schedule somewhere else in the month and that’ll immediately come in January for the Lakers.
Given how much they’ve been on the road, most importantly, the team will travel significantly less coming up. After a December in which they traveled the fifth-most miles in the league, according to Positive Residual, January will see them travel the sixth-fewest miles.
More immediately, the team will leave Los Angeles just once in their next 12 games, a span that lasts until Jan. 25 in which they will travel by far the fewest miles in the league. A trip to Utah is the only time the Lakers hit the road.
Through December, on top of having the most miles traveled in the league, they also have the second-most back-to-backs and are alone in first with the most games played at 35 thanks to the In-Season Tournament. And they’ve had a whole host of injuries in that span as well, adding up to a pretty taxing combination.
All of that swings in their favor in the coming weeks and month. They have the most home games and fewest road games between now and Jan. 25. Not one of those games is a back-to-back, either. And, overall, the schedule is quite forgiving as they have the second-easiest strength of schedule.
“We’re 17-17, about to head home,” Ham said. “Just told the team we have to band together, stay together, stay competitive. We get a chance to go back to our house, sleep in our own beds, work out of our own building and try to defend our home floor and, over the next 30 days, turn this thing around.”
The Lakers’ issues aren’t going to be solved by simply being home more. But an increased ability to focus on the flaws while at home in a more forgiving situation could be exactly what the team needs to make a run.
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