With only 12 games remaining in the 2020-21 season, the Los Angeles Lakers are currently in the No. 5 spot in the Western Conference but have begun falling in the standings with three straight losses, two to the Dallas Mavericks who are now just 1.5 games behind them.
Injuries to LeBron James and Anthony Davis derailed the Lakers’ hot start, but the rest of the roster managed to cobble enough wins to make sure they did not slide too far. Davis recently made his return after a two-month layoff, and while he has not been at his best, him getting back on the floor healthy is a positive in its own.
Even if the Lakers enter the playoffs as a road team, head coach Frank Vogel remains high on their chances to make noise as long as they can get back to full strength.
“I don’t think there’s anything we really have to do,” Vogel said. “We have Anthony Davis and LeBron James and great support role players around those guys. We naturally have a belief in what we can do.
“We’ve actually played .500 basketball. We were 7-5 in the last 12 before these last two losses, so we’ve been playing .500 basketball without Anthony and without LeBron, so you put those guys back in the mix and you feel great about what we can accomplish in the playoffs.”
With the season winding down, Vogel added that he is concerned with making sure everyone is right both physically and mentally than what seed they end up with.
“The mindset for the final 13 games that we have remaining, we need to make sure that everybody is sharp and available going into the playoffs,” explained Vogel. “We want everybody to be in rhythm. … We want to make sure everybody, to the best of our ability, is in rhythm and ready to contribute at playoff time.”
Vogel is right to feel confident in his group’s chances as they have managed to compete on a nightly basis despite not having their superstars at full health. Davis’ return was a welcomed sight, and James coming back will put everyone back in their normal role.
It will be difficult for any team to overcome the Lakers in a seven-game series due to their elite defense and star power. A fully healthy L.A. squad should still rightfully be considered the favorites.
Vogel not concerned with play-in tournament
There is potential that the Lakers could fall far enough to be in the play-in tournament as the seventh seed. However, Vogel maintained that he and the team do not care where they end up in the standings. “Honestly, the standings don’t really matter to us,” Vogel said.
“We’re going to win as many games as we can while being responsible with our players’ minutes and keep everybody sharp heading into the playoffs. You win as many games as you can and the seeding just occurs naturally. The focus is on winning the next game.”
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