If the Los Angeles Lakers don’t repeat as champions, chemistry and continuity could very well be the reasons why as they have not been able to stay healthy during the 2020-21 season.
Players have been in and out of the lineup midway through the year, with Anthony Davis and LeBron James missing the bulk of the season. However, the Lakers were recently dealt another blow when Dennis Schroder was ruled out for 10-14 days as he goes through the NBA’s health and safety protocols.
If Schroder is able to progress quickly, he could possibly return before the end of the regular season. He was originally ruled out on May 2, so there is potential that he could be back for the final two games this week and that is exactly what Frank Vogel is hoping for.
“He’s still engaged in what we’re doing,” Vogel said before Sunday’s game against the Phoenix Suns. “We’re really still hopeful that he can return for the final two games or one of those final two games to get a little bit of run before we enter playoff play. He’s limited obviously with what he can do from a conditioning standpoint. We’re just trying to make the best of it.”
The guard missed four games earlier this season after being placed in health and safety protocols, but this extended absence particularly hurts because James has also been forced to miss time due to his sprained right ankle. Los Angeles has predictably struggled with their two primary ball handlers out of the lineup and the pair will have limited time to get up to speed.
It is no surprise that the best teams in the Western Conference have been the healthiest, but the Lakers have the requisite talent to still compete assuming they have their full roster available. With how the standings how shaken out, it is likely L.A. is in the play-in tournament but it could be a blessing in disguise.
Play-in tournament can benefit Lakers
Although the risk of bowing out early is scary, the play-in tournament may actually help the Lakers ramp up and get everyone back on track. James is rumored to be returning later this week, and he can use the tournament to get himself re-acclimated with the rest of the team.
Also, playing a game with real stakes should help Los Angeles regain their focus ahead of what will be a daunting postseason run given the teams at the top of the standings. It is not an ideal situation, but the play-in tournament does have some positives to it.
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