The Los Angeles Lakers are off to an impressive start on the road and at 7-0 set a franchise record for the best record away from home to begin a season. The bulk of their victories thus far have come in back-to-back sets with the same opponent.
The NBA implemented the scheduling quirk for this season in effort to reduce travel and the risk for players and staff members with respect to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Of course, how effective that’s been can be debated as various positive cases led to revising the NBA health and safety protocols this week.
Meanwhile, the new schedule format has been interesting to monitor as teams around the league seem to be splitting the series. The Lakers have played close games against the San Antonio Spurs and Memphis Grizzlies, but also dominated the Houston Rockets in a mini series.
Despite the challenge that can come with playing the same opponent in a second consecutive game, Kyle Kuzma admitted he likes the schedule set up and hopes will NBA consider keeping it part of the regular season moving forward.
“I really like this format. I think it’s something the NBA should suggest on keeping even as we kind of get back to normal,” he recently said. “One, it’s a type of playoff mentality where you play a team back-to-back.
“You have to game plan and execute a different game plan. But also from a recovery standpoint, being able to not fly to the next city and play, have our bodies get inflamed. I like it. Hopefully it stays this way.”
The NBA saw during the Orlando bubble that the quality of basketball was better because players did not have to travel and recover before games. So far, some teams look to be treating the early parts of the 2020-21 season as an extended preseason period.
Anthony Davis echoed some of Kuzma’s comments about the schedule, and depending on how things look in the future it could be something the league seriously considers making a permanent fixture.
The benefits for the players along with the added intrigue of the regular season would be too good to pass up, so it will be interesting to see how the league approaches the 2021-22 campaign and beyond.
Vogel believes Lakers will get everyone’s best shot
Each season the defending champion seems to get every opposing team’s best performance and that is already the case for the Lakers. Head coach Frank Vogel admitted he and the team are not only aware of that, but embracing it.
“We know we’re going to get everybody’s best shot,” Vogel said. “That’s the biggest challenge, is everybody’s best effort is going to come our way. And I’ve found it’s not just the effort piece. The shot making, the focus, the attention to detail.
“We’re going to get everybody’s best throughout the year, but I’ve challenged our guys to embrace that as a blessing. The other team every night is playing at their best. We’ll be forced to be at our best, and that’s going to push us and challenge us to be great.
“For me, this is a great thing for us. One that can lead to some challenges throughout the regular season, maybe even some losses, but in the long run it’s going to help us come playoff time.””
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