We are just a few weeks into the second half of the NBA season. This is the time where teams begin securing wins and locking up their positions in the playoff hunt. The Los Angles Lakers are in a position they have not been in over six seasons. That being said, how easy is there the road to an LA Lakers Finals appearance?
The Road to a Los Angeles Lakers Finals
The First Round
A saying as old as time is when it comes to the playoffs, it’s all about match-ups. That is something that is very true to this day. Go back to when the number eight seeded Denver Nuggets stunned and beat the number one seeded Seattle Supersonics. Why did that happen? Part of the reason was match-ups. Denver had a favorable match-up against the Supersonics. Let’s take a look at the Lakers’ path to the finals.
As it stands, the Lakers will most likely finish number one in the west and have to face a young, savvy Memphis Grizzlies team in the first round of the playoffs, led by most likely Rookie Of The Year, Ja Morant.
Morant is currently averaging 17.6 points per game, 3.6 rebounds per game, and 7.0 assists per game. As a rookie, that is very impressive. Team that up with veteran center Jonas Valanciunas who averages 14.8 points per game and 11.8 rebounds per game, it would be a fun series to watch. It is safe to say, though, this Grizzlies team is young and inexperienced. With Lebron James and Anthony Davis at the forefront, I see the Lakers advancing in no more than five games.
In the second round, the Lakers will have to play either the Utah Jazz or the Houston Rockets. The Lakers currently have the edge in the regular-season series with the Jazz 2-0 and are split with the Rockets 1-1. Remember how the playoffs were all about match-ups? This is what I mean.
The Lakers match-up better with the Jazz then the Rockets. Houston has embraced a true small-ball basketball style by having its tallest player at about 6’10”. With Russell Westbrook and James Harden running the show on the perimeter, it is bound to cause some headaches. The Lakers, on the other hand, are one of the biggest teams in the league. Having smaller players running around your bigs and getting to the lane at will is a recipe for disaster.
Westbrook is averaging 27.5 points per game, 7.8 rebounds per game, and 7.0 assists per game. His running mate Harden is averaging 34.5 points per game, 6.3 rebounds per game and, 7.4 assists per game. Though Utah is a more defensive team. the small-ball offense run by Harden and Westbrook will prove to be more difficult to handle for the Lakers if they were matched up.
Western Conference Finals
The Western Conference Finals will be especially difficult. For the sake of the argument and time, I will only be talking about the match-ups presented by the Denver Nuggets and the Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers present the biggest threat to the Lakers. With the combined efforts of Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Patrick Beverly, and Lou Williams on the perimeter defensively, they will be a nightmare. They currently hold the season series lead against the Lakers 2-0.
The Clippers carry a strong belief that they are the better team in LA. Whether that is true or not remains to be seen. Since the start of the season, many have claimed a collision course is on the horizon between the two LA teams in the playoffs. Although, health seems to be a bit of an issue for the Clippers.
Denver, on the other hand, is no easy win either. Having all-star center Nikola Jokic, aka “The Joker,” along with Jamal Murray will prove to be a difficult matchup as well. The Lakers do hold a 2-1 season series lead over Denver. Playing in Denver is not an easy task, as many players often complain about the altitude giving them issues.
Denver is also one of the deepest teams in the NBA. That alone can provide the Lakers with some issues.
Well, What Are The Odds?
Despite the teams I listed above and some of the potential matchups the Lakers can face, I still give the Lakers a legitimate shot to make it to the NBA finals. LeBron James and Anthony Davis are two of the top ten players in the NBA. With health and a bit of luck on the Lakers’ side, I truly believe they can reach the finals. Now, whether or not they win it all that is up to them. For right now, a date with the Finals seems to be very reachable.
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