This season has not gone the way the Los Angeles Lakers or head coach Frank Vogel believed it would at the beginning of the season. But thanks to the play-in tournament, the team still has a chance to get in the playoffs and possibly make a run, though the odds will be stacked against them.
Barring any sort of huge run the last couple of weeks of the season, the Lakers will have to win two consecutive games in the play-in tournament to get in the playoffs. But the most critical factor all season for the Lakers is health, and Vogel is hopeful that Anthony Davis will be back with the team for the play-in.
“Well, we’re hopeful that those two games will be played with Anthony Davis instead of shorthanded adding guys off the waiver wire and trying to get through,” Vogel said. “We can look at how we got to this point, or we can look at who we’re going to be when we get to those games, and we believe in who we’re going to be when we get to those games.”
Vogel has never wavered about his belief in a completely healthy Lakers team. But the team has basically never been completely healthy all year long and thus, has had to rely on several different players to step up, some of whom weren’t even on the team to begin the season.
But despite everything that has happened this year, Vogel continues to believe in this Lakers team. “We have our faults. There’s no question about that,” Vogel added. “It doesn’t change my belief. No. 1 that a team of talented guys around LeBron James can win any game and what we can build going into the playoffs.
“If you put our two guys back together, who have not been together all year. Anthony [Davis] and LeBron, with the addition of Russ and talented role players we have on this group, we haven’t seen that. We haven’t seen it really all year.”
The Lakers have some very intriguing individual pieces to go around LeBron and Davis, particularly the younger players. Malik Monk, Austin Reaves, Stanley Johnson, and Talen Horton-Tucker have all had their moments this season, while veterans such as Dwight Howard, Carmelo Anthony, and D.J. Augustin have shown that they can still contribute when called upon.
But none of that matters if the Lakers don’t believe, and that has been called into question throughout the season. Often times it has seemed like the Lakers’ biggest issue is simply playing hard and showing that fight, but Vogel believes they have shown precisely that over the past few games.
“You asked I believe our group really has fight. I think we showed that the last four games with how we played. We’re four straight games over 25 assists. I believed it then, and I still believe it now.”
Frank Vogel proud of Lakers’ effort vs. 76ers
The most recent effort from the Lakers only furthers Vogel’s belief as his team nearly pulled off the upset against the Philadelphia 76ers despite being without their two stars in LeBron James and Anthony Davis. However, Vogel believes the team is still making progress and showed the fight that remains within the locker room.
“We’re making progress,” head coach Frank Vogel said after the game. “We’re building habits that are going to win for us in the postseason, and we’re continuing to grow.
“I think this game we’re disappointed that we lost, but without Bron, without AD. I think the group that played tonight showed everyone that we still have a whole lot of fight left in us.”