The Los Angeles Lakers need to take care of business as they begin a four-game stretch against non-playoff opponents on Monday against the Orlando Magic.
The Lakers are starting to get their health back as they enter the stretch run of the regular season. With only 12 games left, it’s important to win as many of their final games as possible. Not just to maintain their place in the standings, but also to build momentum, as it’s highly unlikely they go into the postseason with any home-court advantage.
They’ll start their final 12-game stretch against a completely torn-down Magic team. At the March 25 trade deadline, the Magic traded their three best players — Nikola Vucevic, Aaron Gordon and Evan Fournier — to jumpstart a rebuild. Since then, they are 3-13 and have won just one of their last 12 games.
For L.A., breaking down any game this season has started with the injury report. Only LeBron James and Jared Dudley have been officially ruled out. Meanwhile, Dennis Schroder was questionable with a left calf issue after one of his best performances of the year against the Dallas Mavericks. He is expected to play though.
The same can be said for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Anthony Davis and Marc Gasol, who were all probably. Davis is also without a true minutes restriction for the first time since returning.
Getting healthy remains the most important thing for the Lakers, but their next four games should essentially be viewed as must-wins.
After the Magic on Monday night, they’ll face the Washington Wizards, Sacramento Kings and Toronto Raptors. Of these four opponents, only the Wizards even remain in postseason contention, as they are currently the No. 10 seed in the Eastern Conference.
The Lakers enter Monday on a three-game losing streak. They have already been on two separate four-game losing streaks this season and are desperately hoping to avoid a fourth against an inferior opponent.
Beyond the Magic lacking significant talent due to their trades, they are also facing a massive rash of injuries. It is unclear who will be available for Monday’s game, as nearly half of their active roster missed the team’s last game on Sunday.
While it’s certainly difficult to treat a regular-season game against a lottery-bound team as a must-win, this has to be the Lakers’ mentality as they try to stay afloat until they get healthy. After three straight losses, the Lakers need to turn the page towards winning against the Magic.
Lakers (35-25) vs. Magic (18-42)
4:00 p.m. PT. Apr. 26, 2021
Amway Center, Orlando, Florida
TV: Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM ESPN LA
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: Dennis Schroder
SG: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
SF: Kyle Kuzma
PF: Anthony Davis
C: Andre Drummond
Key Reserves: Markieff Morris, Montrezl Harrell, Alex Caruso, Talen Horton-Tucker, Wesley Matthews
Projected Magic Starting Lineup:
PG: Cole Anthony
SG: Gary Harris
SF: Dwayne Bacon
PF: Chuma Okeke
C: Mo Bamba
Key Reserves: R.J Hampton, Chasson Randle, Donta Hall, Robert Franks
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