Only Toronto among the favorites to win the NBA title has played well. The Lakers will try and get back on track when they face Indiana. Let’s take a look at how these teams match up!
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Indiana Pacers
Saturday, Aug. 8, 2020 – 6:05 pm EDT (on TNT) at HP Field House, Kissimmee, FL
Like Milwaukee and their bunkmates, the L.A. Clippers, the Los Angeles Lakers have played like one of the nearby Disney characters, Sleepy. The Lakers are 2-3 SU and 1-4 ATS and have often played with the same energy as one of the aforementioned seven dwarfs.
Indiana was playing much better than anticipated without Domantas Sabonis and was 3-0 SU & ATS before losing to a white-hot Phoenix club. The Pacers are out to regroup after a mostly sloppy showing and keep the momentum they have built.
The Lakers Offense is Offensive
Maybe the Lakers are bored in the bubble and having the best record in the Western Conference means nothing to this veteran squad.
However, to win a championship, at some point this team will have to care and see a return of the passion needed to win a championship since this is likely the last chance they will have with LeBron James and Anthony Davis together.
Head coach Frank Vogel is experimenting with various players, to get them up to speed, like JR Smith and Dion Waiters, and continue to get as many minutes for Markieff Morris, who has only played eight games before the league shut down.
Nonetheless, Vogel, James and others are starting to get frustrated, as they are averaging only 98.8 PPG in Orlando, which is the worst of all 22 teams at that location. Ball movement and player movement on the offensive end can generate more flow to Vogel’s offense, still, you have to make shots and when the Lakers went 5-for-37 from behind the arc in 19-point drilling by Oklahoma City last Wednesday, that was noteworthy.
Will Los Angeles Pick up the Pace?
Maybe this is just a phase and once the playoffs start, the intensity level for the Purple and Gold will pick up and this will be forgotten. But Vogel and his staff do not see it that way.
They realize every team’s level of play will pick up as the NBA Playoffs begin and teams in the Western Conference are taking notes and will be trying to further expose the Lakers weaknesses on offense, attempting to force players not named James, Davis and Kyle Kuzma, to hoist as many shot attempts as possible.
This will be part of the Pacers defensive game plan, what will the Lakers do to stop it?
Indiana Has to Show Mental Toughness
After a terrible start, a full recovery and complete letdown, Indiana goes back to work to face Los Angeles.
The Pacers turned the ball over against Phoenix like a short-order cook flipping burgers, giving them a double-digit deficit from the start. With just over two minutes remaining in the third quarter, Indiana had fought back to take the lead. From that point, the Pacers were blitzed 21-0 and that was the ballgame, giving them their first setback in Orlando.
With no Sabonis, Deandre Ayton wore out Indiana in the paint and the quickness of the fast-improving Suns was apparent. Coach Nate McMillian’s club was also out-rebound by 15. Maybe Myles Turner sensed something and commented on it after the game. “I think we needed to be humbled a bit, you know coming into (game), winning games the way we did. We took a lesson from this one.”
Pacers May Have to Overcome Injuries
McMillian will ask his team to start with a greater purpose and they might not have all hands on deck or at less than 100 percent. McMillian said on Friday that a few players suffered “tweaks” and while he expects to have the same group ready, it’s not guaranteed.
This places the onus on T.J. Warren, Melvin Brogdon, and Victor Oladipo in particular, to have strong games. The orchestrator for this to occur is point guards Aaron Holiday and T.J. McConnell. They have to organize the various two and three-man plays and make great decisions.
Big men Turner and Goga Bitadze have to clean the glass better and not have Davis, James, or Dwight Howard have put-backs.
In trying to figure out our NBA picks, obviously, the presence of LeBron is a huge part of making a determination. If LeBron is announced as good to go, we would surmise the Lakers would be -4.5 to -5 point favorites. If not, that makes the basketball odds closer to a Pick.
Seeing James has that nagging groin issue again, it does not make sense for him to play and risk further injury.