In the end, the defending NBA Champion Los Angeles Lakers and superstar forward LeBron James were unable to avoid the league’s new play-in format for the postseason. With the Lakers currently seeded seventh in the Western Conference, Los Angeles will initially be taking on the always dangerous Golden State Warriors, a team that has done quite a bit of winning over the years as well.
With the 2020-21 regular season now officially a thing of the past, the Lakers, the fifth-seeded Dallas Mavericks, sixth-seeded Portland Trail Blazers finished the campaign with identical 42-30 records. However, the Mavericks and Trail Blazers owned respective tiebreakers over the Lakers, which has forced Los Angeles into the play-in scenario with Golden State up first. On the other hand, the Warriors finished the regular season with a 39-33 record, three full games behind the hobbled Lakers.
OFFICIAL: Dubs will take on the Lakers on Wednesday night in Los Angeles.
— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) May 17, 2021
While the Warriors are currently playing some of the best basketball the franchise has played in about two years, the defending champion Lakers will no doubt have their hands full with Golden State. Even so, with the aforementioned James and another superstar in All-Star big man Anthony Davis recently regaining their health, Los Angeles should be able to handle anything that the Warriors throw the Lakers’ way.
1. The Los Angeles Lakers are finally healthy again.
With health also comes depth as it pertains to the NBA — and especially the 2020-21 Los Angeles Lakers. With the Lakers enduring the strangest season in NBA history in 2019-20 en route to winning it all, it isn’t all that surprising that Los Angeles has had a bit of a tough time staying healthy in 2020-21. Even so, the Lakers have regained their health just at the right time as Los Angeles still managed to reach the postseason, which is anyone’s game as far as the Western Conference is concerned.
As Los Angeles gears up for its play-in matchup against the surging Golden State Warriors, it appears as though the Lakers will have superstar forward LeBron James, All-Star big man Anthony Davis and starting point guard Dennis Schroder available and ready to roll. With this not being the case for the Lakers for the better part of the last several months, a healthy Los Angeles team is simply too dominant to drop the upcoming matchup.
2. The Los Angeles Lakers are still one of the best teams in the NBA at full strength.
Records aside, when the Los Angeles Lakers are at full strength, there is absolutely no doubt that this team is one of the best — if not the best — teams in the Western Conference and NBA. Arguably a better team from top to bottom than the team that won an NBA title a season ago, the Lakers can come at the Golden State Warriors from pretty much every single angle. Whether it was during the offseason or midway through the regular season, the Lakers have seemingly covered every base and have improved at every single position.
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) May 18, 2021
While the Warriors obviously still have former two-time league MVP Stephen Curry, former No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins and the always stout Draymond Green, the Lakers still have too much firepower for Golden State to keep up with. Whether it is the tandem of LeBron James and Anthony Davis or a slew of talented role players like center Andre Drummond, big man Montrezl Harrell, forward Kyle Kuzma, or veteran point guard Dennis Schroder, there are simply too many ways for this team to beat the Warriors — or any other team in the league for that matter.
Of course, the Lakers will need to play some defense too as the aforementioned Curry is indeed red-hot at the moment. Even so, the Warriors should still be outmatched in every facet of the game.
3. LeBron James
Age, injury, global pandemic, doesn’t matter. Until he retires from the NBA, Los Angeles Lakers superstar forward LeBron James will remain the best player on the planet. Even on a hobbled ankle, “King James” was back at it this past weekend while putting his insane athleticism and ability to get up and down the floor at lightspeed on full display.
THE KING IS BAAAAAACK 👑
LEBRON JAMES EST VIOLENT ! pic.twitter.com/Xeul40aky2
— FadeAway (@FrenchFadeAway) May 15, 2021
James was quite outspoken against the play-in postseason format recently, which only means one thing — he is now on a mission to prove just how unnecessary he believes this scenario is. Between this notion and the fact that “King James” will surely do everything in his power to help lead the Lakers to a second straight title, the Golden State Warriors probably don’t have what it takes to slow this train down.