The Los Angeles Lakers got off to an optimistic start, but back-to-back losses now have fans wondering if they can hold onto their No. 8 seed, the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
It may be a little early for “panic time,” but the Lakers schedule is pretty brutal following their victory over the Brooklyn Nets. Beginning Friday, Nov. 18 the Lakers have to play quality teams such as the San Antonio Spurs, Chicago Bulls, Oklahoma City Thunder, Golden State Warriors twice, and Atlanta Hawks in six consecutive games. That’s a very difficult six-game stretch for the Purple and Gold.
The Lakers have already dropped their first two games of this six-game test, at home nonetheless. Their next game will be against the Thunder on Tuesday night, which will also be at home. If the Lakers lose to the Thunder on Tuesday they will drop to 7-8, and there’s no guarantee they will ever get back over .500 again this season. Heading into a back-to-back against the defending Western Conference champions (Warriors) with a losing record is recipe for disaster.
Defense is becoming a big concern for the Lakers. In each of their last four games the Lakers have allowed more than 115 points, and they now rank 27th in points allowed. Outside of Julius Randle, no one on the Lakers roster is averaging even six rebounds per game. Timofey Mozgov, who is averaging less than 10 points and five rebounds per game, isn’t exactly living up to his $64 million contract.
The Lakers have been hitting their perimeter shots at a higher than average rate, and their offense is clicking better than expected. Part of the reason the Lakers offense has been successful is because of their balanced scoring, but again, defense is the bigger issue.
If the Lakers can’t get a single win out of this treacherous six-game stretch they will drop to 7-11 overall.