The NBA released the second-half schedule for all 32 teams this past week, and the Los Angeles Lakers have a tough few months of games before the NBA Playoffs commence.
The league normally releases the entire schedule before the season begins, but because of the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, they opted to hold onto the second-half portion on a wait-and-see basis as many games were postponed due to health and safety protocols.
Now available to browse, it’s evident the Lakers will have to perform near their best to obtain the highest seed possible, because nothing will be easy once the All-Star break concludes.
The schedule for L.A. is permeated with top-notch opponents, and eight back-to-back games don’t ease the difficulties. Lakers head coach Frank Vogel, however, isn’t focused on who their opponents are.
“I haven’t really studied the second half of the schedule, but I know every team in the league is playing 72 games,” Vogel said. “That’s all that really matters to me when I see schedules come out.”
In April, the Lakers have 11 road games in 14 total contests. It’s split up into a seven-game road trip, three-game homestand and back on the road for four games. In those road contests, they face tough opponents such as the L.A. Clippers and Eastern Conference playoff contenders Toronto Raptors, Brooklyn Nets, Miami Heat, New York Knicks and Charlotte Hornets.
The three-game homestand features the Boston Celtics and consecutive games against the Utah Jazz, so returning home will also be arduous. But during this 14-game stretch, the Lakers should have a healthy Anthony Davis alongside Dennis Schroder, which would be significant boosts.
The number of back-to-back games on the schedule could pose challenges for L.A. Six of their last seven games occur on a back-to-back, and none of those games will be straightforward.
On May 6, the Lakers play the Clippers, then travel to Portland to take on the Trail Blazers the following day. Both teams are currently in the top six of the Western Conference standings, and could likely be there during that time.
The last four games are all on a back-to-back, but all games will transpire at Staples Center. On May 11, the Lakers host Knicks, currently the sixth seed in the East thanks to Julius Randle, who deservedly made the All-Star Game and rookie Immanuel Quickley, who has quickly developed into one of their best guards.
That game is followed by a match against the Houston Rockets, which may be the easiest of the bunch. Houston has plummeted to the 14th seed in the West after trading star James Harden to Brooklyn and isn’t expected to ascend back into the top eight this season.
The final games against the Indiana Pacers and the season finale against the New Orleans Pelicans the night after are the most interesting, because what materializes could heavily dictate playoff seeding. Indiana is expected to make the playoffs in the East, but the Pelicans are on the uphill climb attempting to fight for a play-in spot down the road.
Anthony Davis staying engaged on Lakers bench
Lower-leg injuries have sidelined Davis, but the 27-year-old All-Star is finding ways to provide a meaningful presence on the team. Vogel explained how Davis is offering his help from the bench.
“Just staying engaged in the game, talking to coaches or his teammates about coverages or offensive spacing concepts, ways he can share his lens on what he’s seeing from the bench,” Vogel said.
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