Los Angeles Lakers: Title stock should be down after first two games

Los Angeles Lakers (Photo by Ashley Landis - Pool/Getty Images)
Los Angeles Lakers (Photo by Ashley Landis - Pool/Getty Images) /

The Los Angeles Lakers’ NBA Championships odds should be worse after the first two games of the Orlando bubble.

The Los Angeles Lakers have officially played two games that matter in the Orlando bubble and have a 1-1 record. The team also played two really tough teams in the Los Angeles Clippers and Toronto Raptors, both of which could be representing their conference in the NBA Finals.

Most teams would take a 1-1 split against those two teams, especially after four months off. This is especially true for the Lakers, whose magic number to lock down the first seed in the Western Conference is just one.

The results of these games are not what really matters. As we said, the Lakers just need one more win or one more Clippers loss to lock down the first seed. That is going to undoubtedly happen.

What matters is how the team wins or loses and how they look after this long lay-off. And through two games it is clear that the Lakers are not all the way there and that should hurt their title odds.

The Lakers did not look fantastic in either game, even if they beat the Clippers on a last-second basket and genius defensive stand from LeBron James. They got the win, but did so very sloppily.

The team set a new season-low for field goal percentage, making just 39 percent of their attempts from the field. You could attribute the long lay-off, sure, but the Clippers still shot 43.2 percent in the game and only one other team — the Utah Jazz versus the Oklahoma City Thunder — have shot under 40 percent in the restart.

The Lakers followed that field-goal percentage by setting a new season-low on Saturday, shooting just 35.4 percent from the field against Toronto. Every team has to play with the long lay-off and that cannot be an excuse for the Los Angeles Lakers. When you have two of the three games with <40% from the field, you might be in trouble.

Danny Green has looked awful, not making a single basket in two games, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has played uninspired defense. The team has struggled defensively on the perimeter since the scrimmage games without Avery Bradley on the court.

This is a defensive-minded team and while they are still staying in these games with their defense, there is a hole in the defense that needs to be solved. It does not matter how good the defense is, either, if the Lakers are as inefficient as they have been thus far.

Sure, they are 1-1, but they barely edged out the Clippers without their two best bench players (who might just be the two best bench players in the league) and were thoroughly outclassed against the defending champs.

And yes, I understand the Lakers have played two of the toughest teams in the league in thier first two games. But guess what? These are the caliber of teams that the Lakers have to get past to win the NBA Title.

It still is not time for the Los Angeles Lakers to panic, though.

These are bad signs and they do hurt the Los Angeles Lakers’ current title odds, but they still have one thing in their favor: time. The Lakers have six more seeding games to figure things out and start hitting from the floor.

This very well could be a two-game cold streak and the Lakers are going to get six more games where the result ultimately does not matter to get right and figure out the rotations. Because of that, the Lakers are still far from panicking.

However, if the Lakers are still playing poor perimeter defense and are inefficient on the offensive side, I would be very worried about playing a team like the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round. That is a team that can burn you from the three-point line and has plenty of offensive weapons.

Next. The flaws we saw in the Toronto loss. dark

This is more than a “one game freakout” that we are often guilty of as fans when our favorite team loses. There are legitimate things to be concerned about with the Los Angeles Lakers that they must get right before the NBA Playoffs.