It did not take long for the Los Angeles Lakers to play the team’s first back-to-back of the 2023-24 season. Games 3 and 4 of the season will be played on consecutive games as the Lakers are back in Los Angeles to host the Orlando Magic on Monday night. Orlando will complete its back-to-back with a game against the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday.
The Lake Show is coming off of a disappointing loss to the Sacramento Kings in overtime. Early on it looked like the Lakers were not even going to be competitive in the game but the team was able to battle back. Late-game LeBron James heroics sent the game to overtime, where Los Angeles could not keep up with Sacramento.
Now the Lakers are looking to avoid a 1-3 start to the season while also looking to wipe away the ugly taste from Sunday’s game. Los Angeles might be trying a bit too hard in game No. 4, as the team is not taking its usual precautions with LeBron James.
Rui Hachimura has been downgraded all the way to OUT, while LeBron’s status as remained probable. Barring a last-minute setback before tip-off, chances are that James will be suiting up in this game for the purple and gold.
Lakers are making a grave mistake if LeBron James plays
Look, I understand that the Lakers want to win every game and fans don’t want to see the team essentially punt on a game and throw out a team that is not the best version of itself. But Darvin Ham and Co. have to take the long-term situation into account.
There is no reason for 38-year-old LeBron James to play a back-to-back a day after he just played a grueling overtime game on the road. If the Lakers would have won or loss comfortably and LeBron got to take the fourth quarter off that would be one thing. Instead, LeBron is coming off a game in which he played 39 minutes.
LeBron has not played more than 39 minutes in a game in the regular season since February 4, which was the game before he broke the all-time scoring record. That is for a reason.
This continues the trend of Ham and the Lakers backing down from LeBron. LeBron played under 30 minutes in the season opener vs the Denver Nuggets, something Darvin Ham said would be a trend during the 2023-24 season. LeBron James publically disagreed and has gotten his way since. He played every minute in the fourth quarter against the Phoenix Suns and is now potentially playing a day after playing 39 minutes.
Technically speaking, every single game during the regular season counts the same. But every basketball fan knows that a game in October holds much less weight than a game in April. Los Angeles has seemingly forgotten that.