Over the next month weks before the resumption of the 2019-20 season at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, Los Angeles Lakers director of strength and endurance training Gunnar Peterson and his staff will have their work cut out for them.
The Lakers have not played a basketball game since March 10 — a loss to the Brooklyn Nets — and will now have until the playoffs begin to get back into game shape.
Although play will begin on July 30 with eight seeding games, the Lakers can really use those as a way of slowly regaining basketball shape. The date they need to be fully ready by is Aug. 17, when the playoffs will tip off. The Lakers have a 5.5-game advantage for the Western Conference’s No. 1 seed, meaning two wins out of eight seeding games will all but guarantee they stay there.
Peterson discussed the difference between being in good shape and conditioning — which he credited Lakers players for maintaining — and being in position to play basketball games, which simply is impossible to keep without playing on the court, via Spectrum SportsNet:
“So, ‘top physical shape,’ the players will tell you themselves and speak to it with definitely more legitimacy than I can. There’s physical shape, there’s conditioning, and then there’s basketball shape. And it’s hard to stay in basketball shape when you’re not playing basketball. That said, they’ve stayed in cardiovascular shape.
“They’ve stayed in strength shape and they’ve worked on flexibility. But the basketball movements, the movement patterns, again, it’s hard to do that when you haven’t been able to do that. I mean yes, it’s like riding a bike, and once you get back on you still know how to ride a bike, you still know how to play basketball. But the movement patterns are different, the contact is different, and it’s hard to do that when you’re isolating.”
The Lakers will have the fortune of not having to fight for seeding, meaning they have extra time to get in game shape, but this will still be a very tough task. The team has not played together officially in well over three months, and will not have their first full team practice until they are in Orlando.
The quote by Peterson also calms the rumor going around that the Lakers have been practicing as a team at a Bel-Air Staples Center replica.
The Lakers will need to focus as a team to get back into game shape. At their best, L.A. looks to be the best team in basketball, but they’ll need to regain their basketball shape quickly in order to prove that in the playoffs.
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