With very few games left in the regular season, the Lakers found themselves fighting to clinch a postseason spot without participating in the play-in the play-in tournament the league implemented.
This clearly is an unexpected situation for the team, as they entered the season as the favorites to repeat as NBA champions. Now, they’ll have to fight for a spot in the playoffs, as they currently have almost identical records with Portland and Dallas.
But how did the Lakers get here? And how much can this hurt their chances of repeating as NBA champions?
The main reason why the Lakers have struggled this season is injuries, as both of their star players have missed more than a month due to injuries.
So, how did that happen?
The Lakers faced the shortest offseason of all the teams, only having 71 days between game 6 of the 2020 NBA finals and their first game of the 2021 season. This had a massive effect on the team, as Davis never looked like himself, and James had one of the longest absences of his career.
What did this short offseason also cause?
Almost no pre-season time for the new players to practice with the team. Although this wasn’t that big of a deal, it´s still a challenge. The tough part occurred when the Lakers added Andre Drummond and inserted him in the starting lineup, but with no LeBron James and Anthony Davis. The rotations were changing every game, and the team could not come together.
This resulted in more losses than wins, but beyond that, the concern for the Lakers is their chemistry. They had little to no time to come together with their new players, mostly because of injuries. Now there are very few games to get it together, and the Lakers need wins. This means that there’s no time to experiment, as the team desperately tries to avoid the play-in tournament.
The Lakers will need to somehow come together as a team as healthy as possible and grind through a tough playoff journey.
What do you think, Lakers Nation – can the Lakers pull this off?
Featured Image: Ringo H.W. Chiu/AP