While it may have taken longer than initially expected, the stage has been set for the Los Angeles Lakers to square off against the Houston Rockets in the Western Conference Semifinals.
Although the Lakers got off to a slow start in their return to the NBA Playoffs, they quickly got on track and took care of business by eliminating the Portland Trail Blazers in five games. However, they were once again left awaiting to see their next opponent thanks to the efforts of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Despite being overlooked by the masses as a playoff contender heading into the 2019-20 season, Oklahoma City came within one possession of potentially taking Houston’s spot in the second round.
Los Angeles now appears to be in a position to reap the benefits of their opponent having to play seven grueling games on an every-other-day schedule. However, Lakers head coach cautioned his team having essentially one week between games could be a negative.
“Fatigue factor is one of those things that you measure after the fact. You don’t really try to attack it unless you’re going to try to run more, but we’re a running team anyway. It’s not something we sort of target and try to take advantage of,” Vogel noted.
“I actually think teams that play a Game 7, in the next series going against a team that has been off, I think has the advantage. Because your senses are sharper, you’re playing in that environment where every possession matters.
“I actually think that’s a better way to prepare for a series than a week of practices. Hopefully that’s not a factor. In terms of how we approach the game, fatigue won’t change what we’re doing or how we’re pushing it.”
Vogel’s comments provide an interesting take on some of the overlooked aspects that come with having extra time off as opposed to consistently playing every other day. Fortunately, he seems to be confident that the Lakers are well-equipped to narrow down on what makes them successful against the Rockets.
Vogelhas already acknowledged the prospect of pulling out all the stops after holding back during their seeding game versus Houston.
It will be interesting to see which team is able to strike first under the circumstances.
Vogel feels rest days are beneficial for LeBron James and Anthony Davis
While Vogel is hesitant to call the extra time off a complete advantage for the Lakers, it should pay some dividends for LeBron James and Anthony Davis after shouldering the load in the first round against the Trail Blazers.
Los Angeles gave both James and Davis rest days where they could during the season restart and have now had ample time to quell any aches and pains that may be lingering. Regardless, Vogel wants to ensure that they maintain the rhythm they built in the first round.
“It’s been good to have them able to manage their own load. Those guys are great at self-monitoring when they need to get into practice action, how much they want to be off their feet,” he said.
“The ability to do that hopefully will benefit them in this series, but obviously there’s a rhythm and timing thing that comes into play as well. I think in the big picture it’s been beneficial.”
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