Los Angeles Lakers: What we’ve learned so far in the NBA Playoffs

Los Angeles Lakers (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Los Angeles Lakers (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

What have we learned about the Los Angeles Lakers heading into round two?

After finishing the Trail Blazers in five games, the Los Angeles Lakers got much-needed rest that resulted in six days of no playoff basketball. This kind of rest in needed when LeBron James is in his 17th year and has by far the most minutes in NBA playoff history; plus, the bubble has required teams to play every two days.

With time to relax and reconvene this Friday, it’s time to look at what we learned so far since the playoffs have started for the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Los Angeles Lakers will go as far as Anthony Davis takes them

This might be a controversial opinion but I’m willing to stand on this hill partly because of how dominant Anthony Davis has been. His impact has been evident on both sides of the ball with his high trapping of Dame to his otherworldly ability to still find a way to protect the rim from the three-point line.

For example, in Game 3 of the series against Portland, Anthony Davis had 6 points at halftime while LeBron had 22 points and looked to be dominating.

The Lakers were still down 4 points and when Anthony Davis finally erupted in the third quarter the Lakers started to pull away with his array of fade-aways and that silky smooth jumper. Davis holds the keys to the Lakers’ title hopes as everybody knows what LeBron brings to the table with averages of 27 points 10 rebounds 10 assists on high efficiency.

As long as the Lakers get the Portland series AD, in which he averaged 30 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, 1.4 steals, 1.6 blocks while shooting 38% from three, nobody is stopping the superstar tandem.

Aggressive LeBron is needed 24/7

Throughout LeBron’s career, he has slowly upped his intensity as the playoffs were slowly approaching but with the pandemic canceling the season temporarily it caused a disruption on a well flowing Lakers squad.

So during the bubble games, it seemed that LeBron was trying to get his guys in rhythm and try to find that fluidity that was apparent before the restart. Even when the playoffs started LeBron still tried to get his guys in rhythm and eventually it paid off as the Lakers ended the series with Portland in five.

Now with a tougher task in the Houston Rockets, it will take LeBron being ultra attack mode 24/7 for the Lakers to beat this high scoring squad. Houston offers little to no size in the paint and LeBron has made a career in finishing at the rim so he should be in for some big nights as long as he keeps his mind in attack mode. The Rockets will eventually have to gamble and leave the shooters open and LeBron always trusts his guys.

Caruso proves his worth

Much has been made about how Laker fans overhype Alex Caruso and his talents but if any of these people watched this guy they would see what he brings to the table. Steals, deflections, extra possessions and most importantly, excellent perimeter defense.

Being matched up with Damian Lillard is a tough task to the majority of the NBA, especially how Lillard was looking since the restart with games of 50+ and 60+. With help from AD and Vogel defensive setup, Caruso did an amazing job holding Lillard to mostly quiet games after going off in game one.

Caruso continues to be the best in plus-minus for the Lakers and much-needed spark whenever the starters are lackluster. AC fresh has also started to develop a two-man chemistry with Anthony Davis that ended in some really great offense for the Lakers. Even when teams stop the initial PNR, Caruso sometimes screens AD’s guy and that frees up the lane for a slam or a foul. Look to see more of this vs Houston.

Vogel has to commit to playing AD at the five

So far coach Frank Vogel has gotten away with playing JaVale and Anthony Davis as the two bigs in a starting five. While also playing Dwight Howard and Anthony Davis at times which has been surprisingly a bright spot all season.

Now, as the Lakers go deeper into the postseason, it will become evidently clear that Anthony Davis at the five will unlock the Lakers on both sides of the ball but especially on offense. Far too often teams don’t respect JaVale and will clog the lane so a usual automatic score with LeBron and Anthony Davis running a PNR ends up in a wasted possession.

The Lakers do have the size advantage against most teams left in the postseason but in order to maximize this team’s ceiling, Vogel will need to accept that AD and this team is at its best with the Brow at the five.

Next. How to overcome Houston's tendencies. dark

All these will be keynotes to pay attention too as the Los Angeles Lakers try to make a run at banner number 17.