The Los Angeles Lakers finally got LeBron James back in the lineup on Friday, albeit in a loss to the Sacramento Kings. Getting James and Anthony Davis back means the Lakers can finally put their best foot forward to end the regular season. And they are desperately going to need it given their spot in the standings.
The Lakers sit just one game ahead of the No. 7 seeded Portland Trail Blazers, so they are just a couple of losses away from having to be in the play-in tournament. They desperately need to avoid this for a multitude of reasons, and James is sure they can continue to build their chemistry and win games to avoid the play-in in the process.
He also said the Lakers look forward to the challenge of doing so, although the 2020-21 season has gone a lot quicker than James expected.
“It sounds so weird, what you are saying that there are only nine games left,” James said. “It’s just been a hell of a season, obviously. Everything is so, so rushed. There’s a game every other day or it’s back-to-backs. You can has as many as four or five games in a week. It’s been a long super quick season.
“How much can we make out of these nine games? Not sure. I know as far as our chemistry, we can continue to build that. … Continue to build some things, but it’s just a different season. Not only for us but for a lot of teams. But we look forward to the challenge. It is what it is. This is the season and we got to make the most of it.”
When asked how this situation compares to the championship 2019-20 season, he said that every season is its own challenge, but that he knows this year’s group is ready for anything. “Every season is its own challenge and obviously the experience of last year is totally different from what’s going on this year, but we can hang our hats on knowing how we can perform in the postseason.
“We have a lot of guys that have returned from our postseason team. We have some big guys that are in our places now, but we have a lot of experience in the postseason. Knowing how to make a run, know how to handle adversity. We know we can always hang our hat on that. Whether it results in wins, that’s for us. The game is played between the four lines, not on experience or on paper and things of that nature. We got to go out and do it, too. You can always go back and use some of those for sometimes when you feel like can I do this or can I not.”
James, Davis and the Lakers face perhaps the most important regular-season stretch since the two teamed up together last season. Staying out the play-in could be vital to their postseason success, and they are in the driver’s seat to do so if they can start compiling wins.
Hopefully, James and Davis can find their rhythm sooner rather than later to help build chemistry with their roster and win games while doing so.
James says time away was ‘horrible’ and ‘stressful’
James did not sugarcoat how he was feeling during his time away from the team. “It was horrible, honestly,” James said after the loss. “It was more stressful than I’ve ever been. The first couple of weeks was pretty good because I wasn’t allowed to travel much. Well, I didn’t travel much, as the injury and the swelling was happening, so I kind of stayed at home. I didn’t go on a couple of road trips with our team.
“I was able to stay home and be with my family, so that was very rewarding, but as far as watching the games and not being able to play, sitting on the bench knowing that you couldn’t make much of a difference. It’s very stressful, but I’m happy I’m playing now. More stress relief.”
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