The Los Angeles Lakers are enjoying a few unexpected days off as their potential second-round opponents, the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder, are headed to Game 7 to battle it out for the spot in the Western Conference Semifinals of the NBA Playoffs.
But despite the extra spare time, the uncertainty poses a challenge to L.A. in tailoring their game plan to their next opponent. The Rockets and Thunder are two teams of very different profiles.
Houston in particular made a bold move earlier this seasons by electing to switch to an extremely undersized lineup.
Lakers head coach Frank Vogel has deployed small-ball lineups in the Orlando bubble on numerous occasions. L.A. even started with Anthony Davis at the center position and Kyle Kuzma at 4 in the 113-97 loss to Houston as part of Vogel’s roster experimentation during seeding games.
But when asked about his team’s ability to play small-ball in the semis, the Lakers coach remained tight-lipped.
“Obviously we don’t want to tip our hand with what our plan would be against either opponent, but what I love about what we did this year is we built in the flexibility to play both styles every game that we play,” Vogel said.
“We play some big lineups and some small lineups as part of our normal rotation and part of what we do. If we were to go small, for higher volumes, it’s still within who the Lakers are this season. We’re prepared to do both, be flexible and counter every attack that we see.”
Despite their early struggles, the Lakers often set off a scoring run when going small during the seeding games. One of them heavily contributed to the victory over the L.A. Clippers in the first game of the NBA restart with Kuzma starring next to Davis in the second half of the clash.
Players guests facing strict rules when attending games in the bubble
While the Lakers are waiting to learn their second-round matchup, they have finally been able to reunite with family members. The NBA began the process of permitting player guests into the bubble ahead of the conference semifinals.
Certain players have already been supported by their close ones from the sidelines. But the guests are subject to strict rules while attending playoff games. The league sent out a memo to NBA teams outlining the regulations including specific restrictions disallowing conversations with game officials.
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