The Lso Angeles Lakers went 3-0 last week, defeating the Spurs twice and the Grizzlies once. Using these teams as a warm-up has worked out pretty well for LA.
During the beginning of the 2020-21 NBA season, the Los Angeles Lakers encountered some issues with their championship-level defense. Opponents were scoring at a high clip and shooting the ball pretty well.
The fact that they faced last season’s 1st, 2nd, and 3rd best offenses to start off the new campaign certainly did not help matters, but there was something more at work there. The effort was not there at times and some of the new additions looked lost or simply did not adjust quickly enough.
The last 3 games have been a godsend for the Lakers. This week they faced the San Antonio Spurs twice and the Memphis Grizzlies once with part 2 of that matchup to come during the next week.
These opponents have served as sort of a trial run for the Lakers and allowed them to make mistakes while not costing them any games. Take the second Spurs game or the Grizzlies game. Both teams had key absences (LaMarcus Aldridge for San Antonio, Ja Morant, and Jaren Jackson Jr. for Memphis) that limited their offenses significantly.
Even with those aforementioned factors, when the Lakers entered the 4th quarter of both games they were still in question. If it weren’t for that guy named LeBron James, the Lakers might be in trouble.
So far, the Lakers have had trouble forcing turnovers on their opponents (12.9 per game, 26th in the league) while also committing a fair amount of turnovers themselves (15.4 per game, 16th in the league).
This should be a cause for concern given that they have not necessarily played the best defenses in the league as of right now. Only one team that the Lakers have faced ranks in the top 10 in both turnovers and opponent turnovers per game, the Dallas Mavericks (I know, I was surprised too).
This goes back to the effort point that I made at the beginning. Los Angeles has looked lethargic with its effort at different points. Missed rotations, sloppy passes, miscommunications, and more have been an issue throughout the season. Look no further than their turnover issues against the Spurs.
In their latest game against Memphis, the purple and gold did a pretty nice job of taking care of the ball after a sloppy first quarter. In fact, that quarter was so bad for LA that they trailed by 11 and shot 44% from the field. Their play improved significantly in the second quarter, especially from the bench, but the turnovers kept the Grizzlies in the game.
In the end, it didn’t even matter as the Lakers won by 14. The flip the switch narrative exists because it is very real. Anybody that has watched this team to start the season knows it to be true.
However, these are issues that the Lakers must address in order to navigate this season successfully. Let’s see how they do with this week’s vanilla schedule before facing the Rockets next week.