The Los Angeles Lakers are more than one week into their stay inside the Walt Disney World bubble for the NBA restart, and Sunday marks their second day off.
The first came after the team practiced for three consecutive days. Lakers head coach Frank Vogel and his staff are working to strike a balance between pushing players toward getting back into game game and avoiding injuries.
Saturday’s practice session included a scrimmage, which Vogel considered the end of “Phase 2” of the Lakers’ planning.
“We had three initial practices with an off day, and now four days in a row, culminating in primarily a scrimmage in [Saturday’s] practice,” he explained Friday. “Today was very light. We have to adjust a little bit to the practice times. We went from a 5 o’clock practice to a 12 o’clock practice the next day, then a 9 a.m. practice today.
“We’re under 24 hours (returning to the court) each of those times. Again, trying to just factor in all these things to make sure we’re managing their bodies and the buildup the right way. We went really, really hard [Thursday] and really, really light today. [Saturday] will be a scrimmage with an off day behind it. That will sort of complete our Phase 2 leading into the practices and scrimmage games next week.”
The Lakers have the benefit of not only three scrimmage games against opponents, but also a 5.5-game cushion over the L.A. Clippers for the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference. Anthony Davis and LeBron James are unlikely to play in all three scrimmage games, but the Lakers remain focused on taking the floor with the same intent.
“Whether it’s in the bubble or regular season, every time we step on the court we’re playing to win. That’s how you succeed in the playoffs, is to have that mentality,” Vogel said. “The standings really don’t mean that much, whether we were competing for a higher seed or trying to lock something in.
“It really doesn’t weight against being healthy and playing our best basketball going into the playoffs. Those are our top priorities. If we have something secured and we still need to build rhythm, we’re going to continue to play without looking too much at the standings. The goal is to be as healthy and playing our best basketball come playoff time.”
Vogel makes picks for MVP, Defensive Player of the Year
To absolutely no surprise, the first-year Lakers head coach looked internally when expressing who he believes should win MVP and Defensive Player of the Year. Vogel tabbed James for the former, and Davis for the latter, and raved about both players.
The NBA has decided MVP, Defensive Player of the Year and other regular-season awards will only be based on games played through March 11.
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!