The LA Lakers have many players who can steal the win. With the obvious genius of LeBron James through to the consistent greatness of Anthony Davis, the Lakers have the fire power to dominate the post-season. But, will the dominance of these players lead to the LA-based franchise gaining the crown of the NBA? Of course, when you watch them play as they did in the first game against the Nuggets, ending the first quarter with a 20-3 lead, you must concede that the experience of the Lakers is a strength against such a young side.
It needs the superstars to shine
It has always been the case that when LeBron James shines, the team prosper. There have been times when James has been accused of sitting back and preserving some of his brilliance, leading the Lakers to appear ordinary. Yet, this is the play-offs and LeBron always turns up when it matters. In that Nuggets first game dominance James finished with 15 points, 12 assists and 6 rebounds.
Even without James, the team can turn to AD for consistent excellence. Again, this post season has seen Anthony Davis shining bright – as he dominated the score sheet with 37 points in this first game. Add in Rajon Rondo and the Lakers are all over the ball, giving the opponents no chance at all.
They will need to keep killing the game early
The strength of the Lakers is the experience of the first team and the talent that can come off the bench. However, this means that resilience-wise, the opposition can probably outlast them into the final quarter. What the opening game with the Nuggets showed is that this Lakers team knows they have to kill the opposition’s spirit by the end of the second quarter. When you have a 70-59 lead at halftime, you are going to be a juggernaut to move from the top position.
This was consistently the case too against the Rockets. When the Lakers got ahead and cruised from the front, the opposition seemed to have no chance of pulling that lead back.
Howard is an impact player from the bench
Dwight Howard might not grab the headlines but he didn’t take long in the games against the Houston Rockets to prove that he is an impact player. He is a genuine asset in the Laker’s second unit. He might not have been thriving in the Orlando bubble, noting to one news outlet that he felt stuck – who can blame him as he has just added to his family with the arrival of a son.
Yet, nothing about his defensive passion on the court gives away that he is feeling trapped and that he hopes the Lakers exit postseason before the finals. When he is on the court, he is all in without a doubt.
Sportsbooks give them a top chance
Along with the Clippers and the Bucks, the Lakers are seen as top contenders for the NBA championship this year. Little has changed since the teams entered the bubble, with the Lakers maintaining their position as the favourites to win. It is not surprising that the bookies continue to back the pairing of Davies and James, as they have a proven quality. They have been well-supported by Leonard and George.
However, one eye has to be kept on the Bucks. With the brilliant consistency of Giannis, the sportsbooks see very little gap between the teams for their chances for the win. In fact, current odds put them neck and neck – with the Clippers with their roster problems a good amount behind.
LeBron’s last chance
Yet, the balance tips slightly towards the Lakers over the Bucks, as many predict that this could be his last chance to add to his championship haul. He may already have three rings but he wouldn’t have continued playing if he wasn’t hungry for a fourth. With the Clippers offering a genuine threat in the Western Conference, it could be a while before a chance at postseason glory is guaranteed for James.
Let’s cut to the chase and be clear that the LA Lakers dominance is likely to be enough to take the title this year. They ended the normal season, when the pandemic hit, as a gelled unit that was starting to hum. While the loss of Avery Bradley seemed like it was going to be a massive problem, the return of Rondo from his thumb injury returned some of the strength to the starting five. And, when James steps up when the games really count, the Lakers are plain impossible to beat.