The Los Angeles Lakers are embroiled in one of the more entertaining first-round series’ with the Phoenix Suns as each game has been close. The Lakers are currently up 2-1 after taking Game 3 in dominating fashion, though the Suns will surely come out fired up for a pivotal Game 4 in Staples Center.
The 2020-21 season was a rough one for the Lakers as they were seemingly dealt an injury to a new player every other game. Anthony Davis and LeBron James each missed over two months, while Marc Gasol and Dennis Schroder were also held out due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols.
However, the team’s fortunes finally seem to be turning around as the Lakers have a healthy roster and look to be rounding into form as their series with the Suns wages on. Los Angeles also saw normalcy return in regards to their day-to-day operations as they reportedly were able to use their film room for the first time all year after the organization hit the 85% vaccination threshold that allows for looser restrictions.
According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, the Lakers admitted their session felt like normal:
“You don’t realize how important and productive it is to have film sessions in an intimate setting until you lose it,” one Lakers player told Yahoo Sports. “When guys are together in close proximity, you’re much more engaged, and especially when you don’t have to wear a mask.”
With the Lakers finally hitting the vaccination rate, they were finally allowed to bring outside food onto plane rides as well and they celebrated their Game 2 victory in Phoenix with a team meal. Jared Dudley noted it was a great team bonding experience:
“It was by far the best postgame meal of the season,” Dudley told Yahoo Sports. “It had us all in a good mood.”
Prior to their film room session on Wednesday, Los Angeles was conducting these meetings on their practice court. Players sat spread apart from each other and had to be masked per the guidelines outlined by the league.
Head coach Frank Vogel was hopeful the traveling party would hit the 85% threshold earlier this week and the Lakers were able to do their part. The good news keeps on coming for the Lakers and it feels like the franchise is finally turning a corner.
Vogel confirmed after Saturday’s practice that there are a number of advantages involved with being over the threshold.
“I just think everyone being able to eat out, I think that’s gonna help our guys build that chemistry that you don’t really get when you’re not doing things like that. I think the biggest thing that we’ve experienced this week is the ability to use our film room, our theater room which we haven’t had all year.
“We’ve been doing film sessions on the court and it’s just a better teaching, learning, sharing environment in that theater room. So I think that’s a tangible difference and obviously me not having to wear a mask in our practice facility to run a practice helps with communication as well. So there’s just a lot of things that just lightens the load. This is a highly intense time of year and for us to be able to do more normal things, I think it definitely helps.”
Staples Center could be full capacity in mid-June
The state of California is planning to fully reopen its economy on June 15th, which could mean the Lakers will have a full Staples Center crowd in the second round and beyond for the playoffs. This will be a huge boost to a team that loves showing off in front of its fans.
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