The Los Angeles Lakers were given an extra break ahead of the Western Conference Semifinals as their rival, the Houston Rockets, needed seven games to claim a first-round series victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
L.A. closed out their series with the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 5 last Saturday. That means six full days will have passed when they take to the court for Game 1 against Houston, with many wondering how it would affect the veteran Lakers team.
The four-month hiatus severely disrupted L.A.’s rhythm, resulting in a form slump early in the NBA restart. The Lakers owned one of the bubble’s worst offenses while showing inconsistency on the defensive end of the floor, but bounced back in the series with Portland.
And head coach Frank Vogel has said he thinks teams playing a seven-game series have an advantage over their opponents who approach Game 1 following a week of practices.
But Lakers All-Star LeBron James told Allie Clifton of Spectrum SportsNet he was thrilled about getting some extra rest:
“I feel good. We got an opportunity to close out our series in Game 5, which gave us extra rest. At this point in my career, the more rest the better for my body and mind, so I’m excited about that. … During the playoffs, the rest is good. During the layoff, COVID, that was not good. That was too much time. If I can get a few days in the playoffs, that helps. The shutdown from the COVID situation was not good at all.”
Lakers guards Danny Green and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope have agreed with James, claiming the break allowed them to nurse their bumps and bruises ahead of the conference semis.
And Anthony Davis echoed their words, saying extra rest early in the playoffs is good for both a player’s mind and body — despite being isolated in the bubble while social unrest is spreading in the U.S.
Davis welcomed having some more time to recover after he had struggled with a sore knee in the seeding games and an ankle issue during the Portland series.
But on the mental level, he thinks the extra week off will help the Lakers get into the right mindset rather than have a negative impact on them thanks to the team’s camaraderie. “It’s been challenging for all us being inside the bubble, guys not being able to do what they want to do, and be able to go out there and help as much as they want to,” Davis said.
“But we have a great group of guys on this team and in this league to make sure guys kind of stay locked in on the basketball side and also on the social injustice side as well.”
Rondo listed as ‘probable’ for Game 1 against Houston
During the break, Lakers guard Rajon Rondo returned to practice after back spasms delayed his comeback after recovering from surgery for his fractured thumb.
And he is now expected to be in Vogel’s rotation on Friday for the first time since mid-March. Rondo, alongside Anthony Davis and James, was listed as probable in the injury report ahead of Game 1.
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