The Los Angeles Lakers have been waiting all year for the postseason to begin, and they will finally get a chance to show the world they are a legitimate threat for this year’s NBA championship.
The Lakers clinched the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference after defeating the Utah Jazz, and seemingly coasted after that. They dropped three straight seeding games before getting back on track after a thrilling win against the Denver Nuggets.
Head coach Frank Vogel took a precautions at the end of the seeding game schedule, choosing to rest LeBron James and Anthony Davis, as well as several key players in the rotation. He also decided to give young players like Talen Horton-Tucker more run to help in his development, something that could pay off down the road for Los Angeles.
However, Vogel and the Lakers now have to switch gears and prepare for a playoffs in which they will likely face a gauntlet of teams on the way to the NBA Finals. The head coach believes his players have already flipped the switch and are getting themselves ready for what lies ahead.
“I think I saw it in practice for the first time,” Vogel said. We had an off day [Friday] and we got into some things that are really based more on us than any potential opponent we would see. The seriousness, the focus on tightening up some of our habits and discipline was there in film and practice.”
As a team full of veterans who have been deep in the playoffs, they are well aware of what is at stake and how to best prepare both physically and mentally. James in particular has always gotten the best out of his teammates when the games begin to matter, and it will be up to him and Vogel to ensure they are ready for what is about to come their way.
Danny Green on mentally preparing for playoffs
Danny Green is no stranger to the playoffs as he is coming off a title with the Toronto Raptors and gets a unique opportunity to chase another championship with a third team.
The sharpshooter has been key in both the Raptors and San Antonio Spurs runs, providing excellent perimeter defenses and knocking down threes when called upon. As someone with championship experience, he understands what it means to be in the playoffs and how to get in the proper mindset.
“We know what time it is. We have a lot of vets on this team,” Green said.” It’s time to lock in and focus, regardless of what’s happening before the bubble, in the bubble. At this point none of it matters.
“We have to be ready from the tip of Game 1. Anything can happen in the playoffs, momentum and energy can shift. Hopefully we stay healthy, that’s the biggest key. The team that’s the healthiest and playing the best is going to be the team that’s left standing. We have enough veterans, leaders and guys who have been there to understand the task at hand.”
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