The Los Angeles Lakers completely reinvented the roster at the NBA trade deadline and the results have been fantastic. The new-look Lakers are 4-1 together and are 3-0 when LeBron James plays.
There is still plenty of work to do as the first half of the season put the team behind the eight-ball. However, with the Western Conference being so compact, Los Angeles has the ability to climb the standings for a playoff berth.
The first goal is obviously just to get into the playoffs. That being said, the team is also reportedly circling a rival as a favorable first-round matchup. If LA is going to make the NBA Playoffs then the team is specifically looking to face off against the Sacramento Kings, per ESPN’s Brian Windhorst.
The Los Angeles Lakers want to play the Sacramento Kings in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.
According to Windhorst, the Lakers are circling the Kings as a potential first-round matchup because of their inexperience in the playoffs. This is a franchise that has not made the playoffs since 2006 and outside of Harrison Barnes, none of the notable players on the roster have viable playoff experience.
Los Angeles got younger during the deadline but the roster still has far more experience than Sacramento’s. LeBron James and Anthony Davis have their title-winning experience but then you have the likes of D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt, who all got valuable experience last season with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Sacramento is not locked into the third seed, though. The team is 1.5 games back of the Memphis Grizzlies and three games ahead of the Phoenix Suns. Anything can happen in the final 20+ games of the season, especially with Kevin Durant yet to make his Suns debut.
But out of the possible teams the Lakers could play as the sixth seed the Kings are by far the best matchup. Nobody in the league wants to play Durant and Devin Booker in the first round while the Grizzlies also have the experience from last year’s playoff run.
Los Angeles is going to have to go through those teams anyway if they are going to make some kind of run but getting a more favorable first-round matchup is key. Even though they are a really talented basketball team, the Kings are the most favorable matchup.
LA and Sacramento have already played each other four times this season, so they will not face off again before the NBA Playoffs. The Kings are 3-1 in the head-to-head matchup but all of those games were before LA made drastic roster changes.