Although the Los Angeles Lakers have clinched the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, their play in seeding games has left plenty to be desired offensively. They struggled mightily against the Toronto Raptors, shot poorly in a win over the Utah Jazz, and experienced similar results in a loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Lakers averaged 35% from behind the arc and 48% from the field during the regular season, but that has not carried into the NBA restart. Of course, in some regard the struggles could have been anticipated.
The L.A. Clippers have the league’s fourth-best defensive rating, and the Raptors rank even higher with the second-best.
Lakers head coach Frank Vogel has mixed feelings about the team’s start and plans to increase focus on the offensive side of the ball going forward.
“Coaches always want to clean up everything,” Vogel said this week. “I think we’re doing some really good things defensively. I’d say the top things we want to work on is our screening and spacing offensively, and we’ve got to continue to be patient with our shooters.”
Also marring the Lakers during seeding games are slow starts, increased fouling and turnovers. Vogel has implored the the starting lineup to play with better pace, but felt the team as a whole regressed against the Thunder.
Vogel expected seeding games to be a grind
The Lakers don’t look to be in top form after a four-month hiatus, and Vogel expected more of the same as the Lakers work their way back before the playoffs begin.
“This is going to be an imperfect way to go into the playoffs and play playoff basketball, but the whole league is dealing with the same set of rules,” he said. “There is going to be an element of we’ve got to gut something out. If that means winning ugly, we’ve got to win ugly.
“I’m known as a defensive coach, and a lot of defensive coaches take pride in winning ugly. I personally don’t. I like to dominate.
“I like to have our defense be tenacious and make their offense look ugly, but I like our offense to be a fine-tuned machine. So I don’t really like to phrase ‘winning ugly,’ but there will be an element of that league-wide with all the circumstances going into this finish.”
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