Prior to the NBA’s shutdown amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Los Angeles Lakers had cemented themselves as one of the league’s best teams. At 49-14, L.A. held the league’s second-best record — only three games back of the Milwaukee Bucks — and sat atop the Western Conference by a comfortable margin.
Not only that, but the Lakers had been playing their best basketball of the season. While their very last game prior to the shutdown was a letdown loss to the Brooklyn Nets, the previous weekend was spent defeating the Milwaukee Bucks and L.A. Clippers in back-to-back games.
The Lakers were a combined 0-3 against those teams up to that point. Even with the loss to the Nets, the Lakers still maintained a 5.5-game lead over the Clippers for first place in the Western Conference when the NBA suspended play.
With 22 teams now poised to be part of the season restarting at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, the NBA officially revealed the schedule of eight seeding games each team will play.
It has the Lakers picking back up against the Clippers at 6 p.m. PT on July 30, which is the first night of games. The Lakers then face, in order, the Toronto Raptors, Utah Jazz, Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, Denver Nuggets and Sacramento Kings.
The Lakers reportedly will head to Orlando on July 9, meaning they’ll have 21 days to prepare for the seeding games before they begin. The NBA Playoffs are then slated to begin Aug. 17.
With a comfortable lead in the conference standings, the Lakers can use the eight regular-season games to get everyone’s legs under them while also preserving LeBron James and Anthony Davis as much as possible. Going just 3-5 in the eight seeding games would clinch the No. 1 seed.
However, the stretch will also be beneficial to finding a rhythm without Avery Bradley. He opted out of playing due to health concerns with his son and a desire to keep active with social initiatives.
The Lakers may also find themselves without Dwight Howard, though the organization reportedly expects he will be with the team when play resumes.
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