The Los Angeles Lakers got off to a good start in the NBA restart on Thursday night. After a back-and-forth battle for much fo the game, the Lakers were able to fend off the L.A. Clippers in a matchup where both teams were clearly out of sync.
Lakers head coach Frank Vogel had some success with certain lineups, but still saw a ton of sloppiness that turned a potential blow out into a tight game.
However, a win is a win, and this particular victory nearly guaranteed that the Lakers would be the Western Conference’s No. 1 seed. Just one more win — or a Clippers loss — will officially clinch it.
Despite that, there’s no reason to believe the Lakers would take their foot off the gas. As Vogel has said, the seeding games are not as much about where they end up in the standings, but rather if they’re 100% ready when the playoffs come around.
“In terms of the No. 1 seed, we still have work to do. But that’s not what these eight seeding games are about for us,” Vogel reiterated after the win. “We have a lot of work to do to make sure we’re playing at a level that’s going to win for us in the playoffs. That’s going to be our focus.”
When asked to compare between Thursday’s game and the Lakers-Clippers matchup from March, Vogel again highlighted the work his team must do before the playoffs begin.
“We’ll have to look at the tape, but to me it feels like we have a long way to go to reach the habits and disciplines we were playing with when we entered the hiatus,” Vogel said. “Obviously we did enough to get the win, but we have a lot of work to do.”
It was clear throughout the game that both teams were rusty and had very different issues that needed to be solved. The Clippers need to learn how to play team basketball, as their chemistry is severely behind the Lakers due to their inconsistencies during the season.
For the Lakers, the focus needs to be on rhythm and ball security. At one point, the team went over six minutes without a field goal. Had they not caught fire from three in the fourth quarter, the opening seeding game may have been a blowout in the other direction.
Prior to the Lakers beginning their slate of scrimmages, both Vogel and Anthony Davis stressed the importance of transition defense. Vogel noted it was an area he believed the team had made strides in but simply needed to spend more time together in order to replicate that success.
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