And Then What: Lakers 2020 Schedule Breakdown – NBA Season Restart 

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On June 26th, the NBA officially confirmed the 2019-2020 season restart and released the game schedule. As happy as I am about the return of basketball, the timing of this decision couldn’t have been worse. Of all the locations the NBA could have chosen to resume the season, they chose Florida. As I’m writing this article, Florida had over 9,500 new cases of coronavirus confirmed on June 26th–the same day the NBA confirmed the season restart.

 

As of yesterday, the state’s health department has confirmed a total of 159,000 cases and 3,550 deaths. But since the schedule did come out and, as of right now, the season is set to resume, let’s take a look at the remaining eight games on the Lakers’ schedule.

 

GAME 1: LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS: LOSS

 

Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images

What better way to resume the season than having a Lakers-Clippers showdown? Both teams had ample time to recharge, recover, and prepare for the playoffs. This will be a good challenge for the Lakers, and we’ll get to see where they are. Avery Bradley’s defensive contributions will be missed, but by replacing him with a quality offensive guard like J.R. Smith, they might be able to pull through. As long as nobody else pulls out, the Lakers should be fine.

But knowing it’s the first game back and it’s against the deep roster of the Clippers, I don’t see the Lakers winning this game, especially without their number two perimeter lockdown defender in Bradley. The Clippers already have an advantage on the defensive end. Add that to their overwhelming offensive firepower and deep roster, and on their best day, the Clippers seem almost invincible. If there is anybody who could beat them at their best, it would be the Lakers, but as of right now, I don’t see the Lakers winning this game.

 

GAME 2: TORONTO RAPTORS: WIN

Most people would write the Raptors off this season, but they won’t be an easy out. If they come out anything like they were before the cancellation, the Raptors will be a problem. They’re the third seed over Boston, Miami, and Philadelphia. Just let that sink in. Pascal Siakam is the Most Improved Player by far, and Fred VanVleet is due a payday.

However, even with all the positive vibes resonating from the reigning champs, in a game against the determined #WashedKing in LeBron James and company, don’t expect the Raptors to win this game. Don’t expect it even to be close. The Lakers will win this game, period. They have too much firepower. Toronto may be able to keep up with them offensively, but defensively, they aren’t going to be able to stop the Lakers’ offensive assault. I am not saying that the Raptors aren’t a serious threat. They aren’t the team to sleep on. I am saying that the Lakers are on a high enough level to take care of them.

 

GAME 3: UTAH JAZZ: WIN

Why Dwight Howard Should be a Lock for the Hall of Fame
Photo Credit: Business Insider

I can’t say the Jazz are a disappointment this season, because who would’ve thought the Western Conference scene would end up looking the way it does. The front office has done a magnificent job building a contender in Utah, as it isn’t the most attractive market. It’s just regrettable that by the time they retooled for a run, the entire Western Conference got way better. When I look at the Western Conference as a whole, the Jazz is higher than I would’ve thought they would be at this point. With the addition of Mike Conley, their perimeter offense and defense is complete.

When it comes to facing the Lakers, there isn’t a clear favorite. Utah’s good enough defensively to challenge the Lakers; the Lakers won’t be able to run over them. Couple that with the offensive talent in their rotation, and you have a legit case for a Lakers’ loss here. It’s common in the NBA for teams to blow games, and this could be one of those games for the Lakers. Even with all that said, I still see the Lakers winning this game, but I believe it’ll be close.

 

GAME 4: OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER: WIN

OKC’s play before the season stopped was very impressive. CP3 showed the world that he’s still got a bit left in the tank, and Shai Gilegous-Alexander is separating himself from the pack as a potential star in the future.

The Thunder are equipped to challenge the Lakers, but the Lakers will win this game. The Thunder won the last game they played against each other, but Anthony Davis, LeBron, and Danny Green didn’t play. With everybody playing at full health, the Lakers should win this game easily.

 

GAME 5: HOUSTON ROCKETS: WIN

The Rockets are worse than I thought they would be. But what can you expect from a team that is practically a one-man show? I understand Mike D’Antoni’s philosophy and coaching style is to put the ball in your best player’s hands at all times, but basketball is a team sport. Look at what happened with LeBron, D-Wade, Kobe, T-Mac, Allen Iverson, and Melo when they didn’t have co-stars.

They all had outstanding seasons, but not a single one of them won without a co-star and great role players. They do have Russell Westbrook and other quality role players, but that doesn’t matter if you keep running the same plays for one person. If the Rockets took a bit of the load off of James Harden, they’d have action at a title.

 

Photo Credit- USA Today

The way to fix this problem would be to utilize the rest of the team’s capabilities, but NBA teams don’t change their philosophy on the drop of a dime. Until the Rockets realize that they won’t succeed until more people get involved offensively and defensively, the only place they’ll be headed to during the postseason is the couch.

When it comes to playing the Lakers in this game, the Lakers will demolish the Rockets with ease. It won’t be close, and it won’t be a game worth watching. The Rockets’ best big man is an old Tyson Chandler who barely even plays. How do they expect to stop a slashing LeBron and a dominant post big like AD? With AD, JaVale McGee, and Dwight Howard (if he plays), how in the hell do the Rockets expect to get rebounds? This is a Lakers win. Period. End of discussion.

 

GAME 6: INDIANA PACERS: WIN

The Pacers have done an outstanding job of rebuilding the team after Paul George’s departure. However, even if Victor Oladipo decides to play, they won’t be at full strength due to Malcolm Brogdon testing positive for coronavirus. Even with All-Star Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner running their frontcourt, they won’t match up well against LA. The Pacers overall have a solid team, but they don’t have enough to compete with the Lakers.

 

GAME 7: DENVER NUGGETS: WIN

Photo Credit: SilverScreenAndRoll

The Nuggets are almost there. They’re still in the parking lot, though. The Nuggets have done a magnificent job building a competitive team, and they are one of the unique teams in the league. They are one of the few teams that are built around a center and the only team that’s built around a point center in Nikola Jokic. We’ll see how well the Nuggets capitalize on their recent regular-season success.

Both teams should be at full strength this time around, so this game should be a good one. The Nuggets will give the Lakers a run for their money in this matchup, but ultimately I don’t think they’re ready for primetime. That’s why they’ll take the L to the Lakers in this game.

 

GAME 8: SACRAMENTO KINGS: WIN

The Kings finally have a good team. It’s been at least 15 years since the Kings have been a problem. De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, and Marvin Bagley III have all come along nicely, and this trio could cause issues soon if they stay together. But until that time comes, the Kings aren’t a significant threat to any of the top teams. So when it comes to this game against the Lakers, the Kings will put up a fight, but they’ll lose.

 

After evaluating each game, the Lakers should finish with at least a 7-1 record, if not an undefeated one. Just thinking about basketball returning next month has me excited, and I can’t wait to see what is in store for us in the foreseeable future. But with Florida emerging as a hotspot for the coronavirus, who knows what the NBA will do. So I ask the question, “And then what?”

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-Michael Dancy II – Franchise Sports Media

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