The Los Angeles Lakers have won five games in a row, largely due to the incredible play of LeBron James.
During the current streak that started with a last-second victory against the Boston Celtics, James is averaging 26.0 points, 8.6 rebounds and 9.8 assists while routinely hitting clutch shots to help lift L.A. over their opponents.
However, there are some reasons for concern despite the successful stretch. Three of the five wins have come against sub-.500 teams, with each of those decided by eight or fewer points. L.A. needed double overtime against the Detroit Pistons, and an extra period against to defeat the shorthanded Oklahoma City Thunder.
Despite the Lakers being pushed by opponents they are superior to, James is generally pleased with the circumstances despite not being fully aware of all the details. “I’m going to be honest, I didn’t know how many games we’ve won in a row or not,” he said.
“We’re playing every other day. It’s just like, ‘OK, the game is here. Let’s go out, compete and try to win.’ I have no idea what our record is, I didn’t even know we’ve won five in a row. You just go out and compete.
“Every game is going to be its own challenge. We don’t mind playing games that go down to the wire, we don’t mind playing games where you’ve got to execute. We have that championship DNA. I mean, it’s good for us to be tested.
“I love that no matter who you’re playing against. Teams that take you down to wire, make you execute, you have to be perfect defensively and offensively to win a game. It’s pretty cool. I love it.”
The close wins against inferior opponents were offset by the victory over the Celtics and a blowout against the Denver Nuggets. While the Lakers may have some issues on a game-to-game basis, they’re still proving that they’re among the league’s elite teams.
The Lakers still rank first in defensive rating, meaning they haven’t slipped too much in their bad games. However, they’ve dropped to eighth in offensive rating and third in net rating, something they can hope to improve upon as the season progresses.
LeBron: Lakers’ identity goes beyond talent
While the Lakers are undoubtedly one of the most talented teams in basketball, James was adamant that it was not the defining reason for the team’s success.
“If you really sit down and watch a 48-minute game, the way we play the game offensively and defensively, you’ll see it’s more than just talent,” James said.
“For us, we want to play harder than teams, we want to dive on loose balls, we want to take charges, we want to get our hands on deflections and things of that nature,” he said. “That’s who we are as well.
“Yes, we have the talent. We have a lot of talent, but at the end of the day, it will only get you so far. We do the dirty things as well.”
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