When the 2019-20 NBA schedule was unveiled, plenty of attention went to the Los Angeles Lakers tipping off the season against the L.A. Clippers.
Although the Clippers were still due to be without Paul George, the matchup figured to be an early test for both teams.
The Clippers — who were the designated home team at Staples Center that night — seemingly overwhelmed the Lakers with their cohesiveness and depth. However, since then, the Lakers have gone 17-2 and boast the best record in the NBA.
While Anthony Davis and LeBron James have formed early chemistry and role players have supported them well, the team’s relatively soft schedule must be noted. Of their 19 games played, only five have come against opponents over .500; L.A. is 3-2 in those contests.
But on the horizon is another matchup with the Dallas Mavericks and three-game road trip against the Denver Nuggets, Utah Jazz, and Portland Trail Blazers. Games with the Nuggets and Jazz are a back-to-back scenario.
“Yeah, it’s definitely going to get more challenging,” Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said of his team’s upcoming schedule. And though detractors have pointed to the relative ease of opponents faced thus far, Vogel pushed back against that narrative.
“The teams that we’ve played — despite their record — have played extremely well. There’s been a lot of situations where teams played above themselves,” he said. “Maybe because you’re playing against LeBron and Anthony Davis, maybe because it’s the Lakers, whatever the circumstance may be.
“You’ve still got to win those games, so I’m proud of what our group was able to do in terms of taking care of their business, battling through some of that stuff and winning games even on nights when we haven’t been our best. Certainly the schedule is going to get more challenging.”
While the Lakers figure to face a tougher path ahead, the focus is on maintaining the same approach.
“We just try to have the mindset all year that it doesn’t matter if we’re playing a team with a losing record or winning record,” Vogel explained. “We concentrate on our assignments and our jobs. The focus is on the standard we want to play with, no matter who’s in the other team’s jersey. If you have that mindset, you’re going to be pretty good.”