The Los Angeles Lakers are in a position where every single game matters. Los Angeles is trying to move up the Western Conference ladder to make a playoff run and is going to have to do so without LeBron James for some time.
If the new-look roster can just stay afloat while LeBron is out then this team could still make some serious noise in the NBA Playoffs. For that to happen, the Lakers need several players (most prominently Anthony Davis) to step up.
The problem is that the team is still managing Davis’ workload down the stretch to be cautious with his right foot injury that he suffered earlier this season. As a result, Davis is not playing on Wednesday — the second leg of a back-to-back — against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Fans are not happy about this when every single game matters. Load management is already a dicey situation that fans are not happy about but in this specific instance, the Lakers’ brass could have approached things in a much smarter way.
The Lakers should have sat Anthony Davis against the Grizzlies, not the Thunder.
Of course, hindsight is always 20/20 but it does not take an NBA genius to know that the Memphis Grizzlies are a much tougher team to beat than the Oklahoma City Thunder. After all, the Grizzlies are 9.5 games better than the Thunder this season and have one of the best players in the league, Ja Morant.
Sure, as a basketball team you want to go out and think that you can win on any given night against any opponent. But if you are going to schedule rest days for a star player, you probably should give yourself the best chance to actually win the winnable games. Especially when you are not even in the playoff picture right now.
It goes so much deeper than the Grizzlies being a better team, though. How about the fact that the Thunder are one of the teams fighting with the Lakers for a spot in the Western Conference play-in!? Before Wednesday’s game, the Lakers are half a game up on the Thunder.
Los Angeles is not going to catch the Grizzlies and does not need to gain a game on Memphis in the same way that it needs to gain a game on OKC. This is especially true considering the Thunder have won the only matchup between these two teams this season.
There is absolutely a chance in which the Lakers and Thunder end up with the same record and it could decide who makes it as the 10th seed in the play-in. The two teams play each other three times this season. If the Thunder beat the Lakers on Wednesday then they already locked up the season tiebreaker.
So not only is this game more winnable but it has significantly more playoff implications than the Tuesday game against the Grizzlies! Yet the Lakers still decided to play Anthony Davis against Memphis, lost that game, and now have a much tougher go of things against OKC.