Well, the 2020 NBA Playoffs are upon us. With its Disney Bubble premise in full effect, the 16 teams are squaring off to determine this year’s champion. While it’s hard to think that there won’t be an asterisk next to the 2020 title, a champion will be crowned.
The NBA is a fickle beast. Star-driven and tank-friendly, teams in the dumpster one year can be the king of the mountain the next. With that, stakes are high for almost every team as they make their playoff run, with sought-after stars often heading for greener pastures if they feel their squad can’t get over the hump.
We’re looking at each of the NBA playoff contenders and diving into what’s at stake for each team, the odds of making a deep run, and key storylines to watch.
Let’s hit the Los Angeles Lakers.
Los Angeles Lakers
Expectations: Win It All
Anything short of an NBA Championship will feel like a failure for the Lakeshow. After all, that’s why Anthony Davis and LeBron James are in LA in the first place.
What’s Working for Them
LeBron James. I know that’s the easy answer, but it’s also the biggest thing LA has going for them. The Lakers were firing on all cylinders before the break, and that was in no small part due to LeBron’s leadership, not to mention his skills as a Point-Forward. Couple that with Anthony Davis’s range and skillset, and that pair alone is a force to be reckoned with unto themselves.
If the Lakers have had one bright spot in the restart, it’s been Kyle Kuzma stepping up into the third key player position most assumed he’d fill during Pre-Season. Now that his hair is no longer blinding him, he’s become a reliable scorer. If that can continue in the postseason, that will stretch opposing defenses even further, nearly guaranteeing one of the three will go off for some big points.
What Might Hold Them Back:
Guard play, especially in the first round. No Avery Bradley, who opted-out of the bubble because his son is high-risk, Rajon Rondo injured (though possibly back and ready to play) and Danny Green has been non-existent in the bubble. KCP hasn’t been the defensive stopper we’re accustomed to lately, and Alex Caruso is still largely untested. Oh, and JR Smith. Remember what happened last time he was in the playoffs? Yeah, you do.
The other big hurdle for the Lakers is finding the chemistry they had pre-shutdown. If this team can start to click, there’s no stopping them, but they haven’t shown any signs of that in the bubble. That could honestly be because they didn’t really have anything to play for in the bubble yet, but teams that try to wait until the postseason starts to “turn it on” are notorious for crashing out before they should.
Storyline to Watch
There’s no doubt that the Blazers are the hottest team in the bubble, and they’re led by the hottest player currently in Damien Lillard. Combine that with the Lakers’ shaky guard situation and you have the makings of a great battle. Will LeBron and AD simply be able to outscore Dame and CJ? How will the Portland defense deal with AD, JaVale McGee, and Dwight Howard? How will Melo factor into the series? It’s honestly the most compelling matchup in the first round. If LA can hold Dame under 35 points, I think they win the game. That’s much easier said than done. Prediction: Lakers in 6.
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