Lakers Won’t Play with ‘House Money’ Or Accept Less Than A Championship
LeBron James and Anthony Davis rejected claims by Lakers doubters and critics who want to put a ceiling on their season and confirmed they’re not satisfied just playing with house money. They want another championship.
That may be presumptuous for a #7 seed that had to finish the season on 41–29 tear and win an overtime Play-In game to make the playoffs but after upsetting the Grizzlies and Warriors, the Lakers are now getting greedy. When asked if the Lakers were happy to be playing with ‘house money,’ LeBron James and Anthony Davis dismissed the idea they’d be satisfied with doing that and reiterated their only goal was another championship.
The idea LeBron James and Anthony Davis should be happy to be where they are and satisfied that they have made it to the conference finals is contrary to everything we know about what winning means to them. “That’s y’all expectation,” Davis said. “Our expectations inside are way higher than showing up to the Western Conference finals. Want to shock the world. … Me and Bron want another one, now it’s time to go get it.”
Even after dominating both the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round and the champion Golden State Warriors in the second round in six games, the Los Angeles Lakers are still being universally underrated and disrespected. Despite having the #1 rated defense in the entire playoffs, the Lakers are still underdogs to the Boston Celtics, who are current favorites to win their 18th NBA championship, and Denver Nuggets, whom the Lakers play next.
After starting out 2–10, the Lakers were essentially written off by everyone as they fell to 13th in the West with a 25–31 record 13 games behind the top seeded Denver Nuggets as they approached the February 9 trade deadline. Then came the big trades by Rob Pelinka that saved the Lakers season. They traded Westbrook, a first round pick, and 5 five unwanted players for 5 rotation players in Hachimura, Russell, Vanderbilt, Beasley, and Bamba.
The trade for 5 new players combined with the emergence of Austin Reaves as a secondary star and the return to the rotation of Lonnie Walker IV have transformed the Lakers from lottery team to a championship contender. The new-look Lakers now have a dramatically improved starting lineup and a deep and diverse 8-player rotation that’s growing and getting better every game. The Lakers have 5 players averaging double digits in playoffs.
The NBA media has been slow to react to the Lakers’ playoff dominance and it will likely take another road upset by the Lakers to start the West finals before the pundits and prognosticators become ‘woke’ on the Lakers. The Lakers will follow the same plan for winning road series that worked in Memphis and San Francisco: Steal one of the two first home games in Denver and then sweep them in L.A. to take a commanding 3–1 lead.
Unlike the first two rounds, the Nuggets will be the Lakers’ first playoff opponent with an elite center in Nikola Jokic who can challenge Anthony Davis and who has the 3-point gravity to draw him away from the rim.
The Lakers will likely return to their usual starting lineup with defensive ace Jarred Vanderbilt although there’s also a possibility the Lakers might opt to go bigger by starting Rui Hachimura instead of Vanderbilt.
Strategically, Darvin Ham needs to have Anthony Davis’ mirror Nikola Jokic’s minutes. Lakers cannot allow Joker to go against a lineup without Anthony Davis. Lakers should play Bamba when AD goes to the bench.
The Lakers will hopefully be able to have Davis play Jokic 1-on-1 and turn him into a big scorer rather than a playmaker. They need to control him and make him one-dimensional. Davis is Lakers’ advantage over Jokic.
While the rest of the basketball world may not yet realize how good this Lakers’ roster could be, LeBron James and Anthony Davis both totally understand they’re just 8 more wins from their 18th NBA championship.