Even with LeBron James and Anthony Davis back for the Los Angeles Lakers, the team suddenly finds itself in a tough situation regarding the Western Conference standings.
The Lakers had a solid hold on the fifth seed, but after losing back-to-back games to the Dallas Mavericks and then their recent skid, the team is suddenly in danger of being forced to participate in the play-in tournament. Los Angeles looks like a team that is going through the motions while simultaneously working in several players, but their recent play has raised concerns about their chances to repeat.
Even though the play-in tournament is now a very real possibility, head coach Frank Vogel noted he would not alter his approach to their final eight games of the 2020-21 season. “Not right now. If we get into the final two games or so and it’s close then at that point, I don’t know if we look at things differently then.
“Right now we’re trying to win games. We’re trying to beat the Toronto Raptors,” Vogel said before Sunday night’s game. “It’s the only thing on our mind tonight and tomorrow we’re going to try to beat the Denver Nuggets, so it doesn’t really change our approach in terms of trying to win those games depending on where we are with the standings.”
The Lakers wound up losing to the Toronto Raptors, 121-114, on Sunday night, leaving them at 38-28 on the season and tied with both the Dallas Mavericks and Portland Trail Blazers. However, the Lakers slid to the sixth seed as the Mavericks own the tiebreaker while the Trail Blazers meet the team in Staples Center later this week.
Avoiding the play-in tournament should be a priority, but it appears as though Vogel and the rest of the team are more concerned about just getting to the postseason completely healthy.
That is evident with James ruled out for Monday night’s game against the Denver Nuggets in order to rest his sore ankle.
Vogel confident Lakers can get back to championship level
With only eight more games remaining, the Lakers do not have much time to ramp up before the playoffs. However, Vogel believes he and the roster can make up for lost time.
“It’s a big challenge, but one we’re up to the task,” Vogel said. “Certainly, none of us feel nine games is enough for Bron and AD to get their rhythm and timing back to where it needs to be and to integrate guys like Ben [McLemore] and Drumm and get the chemistry where it needs to be. We’re going to make the best of it and it’s going to be enough, but the challenge is significant.”
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!