Even though the 2020-21 season has already passed the halfway mark, the Los Angeles Lakers are still figuring out the roster’s potential due to the challenges posed by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Lakers players have repeatedly said the nature of the current campaign made it particularly challenging to get to know one another. Health and safety protocols as well as limited practice time forced L.A. to learn different schemes and plays mostly ‘on the fly’ during games.
The defending NBA champions did enjoy a few more nights off following the All-Star break. L.A. hosted the Indiana Pacers on Friday, two days after games resumed in the NBA, and will face the Golden State Warriors on Monday following a rare free weekend.
And the relatively light start to the second part of the season served as an opportunity for the team to spend more time together on the practice court. “The first couple of regular-season games was like practice for us because we didn’t really practice,” Dennis Schroder said.
“Now, to get together and talk about a few things, I think it’s gonna help us a lot. I think on the defensive end we can still do better, but on the offensive end, just to make it as easy as possible for us because I think we’ve got so much talent that we can score easy. We’ve got to find ways to get that done.”
The limitations and injuries made head coach Frank Vogel carry out in-game experiments as they often were his only chance to test out different lineups and game strategy. At times, the tinkering interfered with L.A.’s rhythm and affected happenings on the floor.
But Schroder thinks the Lakers will benefit from their trial-and-error approach in the long term as it allows every player to stay ready in case their services are needed. “I think all the people we have in the locker room, everybody believes in each other,” he said.
“I think that’s the biggest thing for us, and they need to be ready as well. They need to get their practice in, individual work to give us that spark when they come into the game.”
Schroder added the Lakers try to bond as much as they can outside of the court to help the team gel. “We’ve never had a season like this before obviously,” he said. “But off the court, we do a lot of stuff as a team so the chemistry is there.
“But like I said, everybody has that, every team has that, so it’s no excuse. We just try to get better every day and then wait for the postseason to come and then get going.”
Alex Caruso diagnosed with mild concussion
Adding to the recent personnel issues, Alex Caruso has been diagnosed with a mild concussion after a fall in the second quarter of the 105-100 victory over the Pacers that ruled him out of the remaining of Friday’s clash.
L.A. is yet to provide a timeline for the guard’s return, but it seems unlikely Caruso will be able to clear the concussion protocol ahead of the Monday showdown with Golden State.
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