Los Angeles Lakers: 3 must-win games for the rest of the regular season

(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
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(Photo by Chris Elise/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photo by Chris Elise/NBAE via Getty Images) /

1. Apr. 9 vs the LA Clippers

Sometimes, a championship contender will overlook a late-season matchup over another contender, as they’re looking to “load manage” guys and make sure they’re fresh for the playoffs.

This will be a big question as we head into this matchup with the Clippers.

This, of course, was the game that was supposed to be played late last month but was postponed due to Kobe Bryant‘s death. To make it happen, the NBA also had to reschedule two other Lakers games.

As a result, this will be the team’s third game in as many days, and their fifth in sixth days. Those five other games will be against teams the Lakers should easily beat, with the possible exception of the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Which begs the question: will coach Frank Vogel sit out James in any of those games?

If he doesn’t, he should limit the minutes of James and his other regulars heading into the Clippers game to prevent fatigue or injury.

If both teams are playing their full rosters on Apr. 9, it could be a true playoff preview. In that case, the Lakers should treat it as a dress rehearsal for the playoffs. While they may not want to show their best hand, they should still look for cracks in the Clippers’ armor they could expose come playoff time.

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At the very least, you don’t want to allow the Clippers to win that game and hold that over the Lakers as the postseason begins.