The Los Angeles Lakers have been in a funk, dropping a third consecutive game with their most recent loss coming at the hands of the Indiana Pacers.
While the seeding games no longer matter from a standings perspective since the Lakers clinched the No. 1 seed, the team has not been playing its best basketball on either end of the court.
With their spot locked in, the sense of urgency is gone but head coach Frank Vogel has maintained the Lakers are still focused on winning games. Their struggles are something to note as the first-round opponent is increasingly looking like it will be the Portland Trail Blazers.
The Blazers just lost to the L.A. Clippers despite having a lead for most of the game and the latter sitting Kawhi Leonard. Paul George also was on a minutes restriction and didn’t play down the stretch of the fourth quarter.
“I was told about the ending of that game. I didn’t see it. My game days, I don’t really watch any other games. On my off days I watch a lot of other games around the league, whether it’s teams we may potentially see or other teams in general,” Vogel said.
“We’re still a few days away from it being clear in terms of being narrowed down to who our potential opponents could be, so I haven’t spent a lot of thought with that.”
When asked about the possibility of the Clippers attempting to manipulate standings and playoff matchups, Vogel made it clear he was not troubled by it.
“I’ve got no problem with it. Everybody’s got to manage their team in their own way. I don’t have anything to say about it,” he said. “I have no problem with it.”
The Trail Blazers are not your typical eight-seed as they went into the bubble healthy and are finding their groove with everyone back in the lineup. If it is indeed a Los Angeles-Portland meeting in the first round, the Lakers will absolutely have their work cut out from them.
Vogel focused on preparing for playoffs
It is no secret how much media attention the Lakers attract, so any time they struggle they will be constantly talked about.
For anyone with the team, that kind of scrutiny can get to them and perhaps even affect their performance. In Vogel’s case, he has gotten some flack for how the team has looked and some of the lineups he has gone with.
However, despite all the outside noise he is remaining focused on getting Los Angeles back on track and ready for the playoffs.
“The only thing that matters to me, and it’s always been the case with my teams going into the playoffs, is we don’t try to do anything other than sharpen all our weapons, make sure we’re playing as good as we possibly can and try to be as health as we can,” he said.
“Everything else, people can read into what they may, like you guys are alluding to with the Portland game, but it’s really about us. That’s always been my approach and that will be the case these next few games.”
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