Once upon a time the Western Conference was the Los Angeles Lakers and everyone else. These days it’s everyone…except New Orleans…in the Western Conference. There is no clear cut favorite to prevail once the playoffs begin. Absolutely nothing indicates just what the playoff seeding might look like in the West.
These days the Lake Show is stuck in the middle of the pack, trying desperately to put themselves in the best position possibly going into the postseason.
One way for the Lakers to rise above the rest is to start winning on the road. The recent Grammy road swing showed some improvement for a team that has been terrible away from Staples. Three wins in six games proved this team still has what it takes to compete in the most adverse of circumstances. But that was just a tune-up for what’s coming next.
Starting tonight the Lakers will play 4 games in five days with three of those tilts in unfriendly confines. More specifically, they will be up against some of the most talented teams in the West.
If the Grammy trip was a measuring stick then this slate of games will be a litmus test.
Tonight the Lakers conclude their home-and-home series with the Phoenix Suns a team they took apart in Staples just over 48 hours ago. While these aren’t the same Suns we’ve seen in recent years they still pose a challenge for the road weary Lakers.
One of the true challenges facing Los Angeles will be keeping their focus on the task at hand. After Phoenix the Lakers return home to face the rival Portland Trailblazers then they hit the road again to play in Dallas and Oklahoma City prior to the All-Star break.
Let’s not fool ourselves. This short season is nearing the midpoint and every game against a Western Conference rival is crucial. The Lakers could easily move into a top 4 seed or fall to being one of the last teams in depending on how they handle business in the coming weeks.
Winning in Dallas and OKC is no easy chore so that makes the game in Phoenix a must-win of sorts. This is the time of year when the elite teams reveal themselves through how they handle lesser competition. If the Lakers are going to keep any title hopes alive they’ll need every advantage they can get. Getting homecourt in the first round of the playoffs is a great goal for the current Lakers. It might not be the usual discussion of homecourt through the playoffs we’re accustomed to but it certainly is a realistic goal that can help keep any championship hopes afloat.