The Los Angeles Lakers have now completed their three scrimmages and will begin their eight seeding games on Thursday against the L.A. Clippers.
JaVale McGee has looked extremely solid so far in the Orlando bubble, and the rest of the team has followed suit. Some sloppy play was to be expected, but the Lakers generally seemed to pick up right where they left off otherwise.
Luckily for the Lakers, the seeding games mean something different to them than they do the rest of the league. With the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference basically locked up, they can use the eight games to get back into shape and perfect their rotation.
“I feel we’re at 80%. We still have to play real games with real lineups and everybody playing real minutes,” McGee said. “I feel like that’s what these eight games are for, to get us prepared for a strong playoff push.
“I’m really excited about that. Everybody is excited, everybody is motivated, everybody is in the gym for two-a-days and taking care of their bodies. Everybody is just really focused.”
McGee also said he’s intrigued to see how the Lakers perform against the Clippers on Thursday, given how great they looked the last time the two teams met. “I feel like we were definitely at an elite status at that time in conditioning, camaraderie and the way we played together,” he said of the Lakers’ play in March.
“I really don’t know right now, just because we haven’t played any real games. I feel like that will be answered on Thursday, to see what we need to clean up and fix. It’s a good comparison, for sure.”
When the Lakers defeated the Clippers days before the NBA shutdown, they simply looked like the better team. They took advantage of players like Lou Williams, who is a necessity on offense but a near liability on defense. After that day, L.A. looked like the team to beat in the NBA.
However, so much has happened between then and now, that Thursday night’s game should act as a good litmus test for where both teams are at. This is in spite of the fact that the Clippers will be without Williams and Montrezl Harrell.
LeBron James treating scrimmages and seeding games like training camp
James — during games that don’t hold any weight on the standings — will be using this experience as a training camp to help the team get back to 100%.
“We want to just try to get better. We’ll use this moment as a training camp to continue to implement our identity,” James said after the Lakers fell to the Dallas Mavericks.
“Our identity is to defend, share the ball, push the tempo and play together. I think we were able to accomplish that to as close to 40 minutes as possible.”
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