Lakers and Clippers chase new shooter Utah Jazz

0
431
Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell and Lakers star LeBron James

If there is anything that we have learned from the first half of the 2020-21 NBA season is teams that endured long playoff stretches during the COVID-19 shortened Orlando bubble have struggled with endurance and injuries.

The NBA champion Lakers are the best example.

Trailing the Utah Jazz for the best record in the Western Conference, the Lakers at 24-13 are 3.5 games back of the top spot and have played the tail end of the first half without superstar center Anthony Davis who has no foreseeable timeline for his return.

Thus the aging LeBron James, he could not have looked any older playing in the 70th All Star Game last week, is going to be forced to play more minutes than anticipated further taxing an already overloaded engine.

Bron Bron performance or lack thereof in the All Star Game was the worst performance he’s had in 17 appearances and while many of us would like to just chalk it up as a game that was meaningless and did not require his ultimate effort, it offered hints of what is to come.

Other players were faster, more athletic, greater hops and more energy than the man who has been the face of the NBA.

I am not by any means saying that LeBron is washed up, but if you just look at the teams enjoying breakout seasons such as the first place Jazz and the second place Phoenix Suns in the West then you can see that a youthful evolution is on the horizon in the 30 and over NBA.

Meanwhile the Clippers and first year coach Tyronn Lue are right behind the Lakers at 24-14 and 4 games back. Right now it is safe to say the Clippers are the primary threat to the Jazz and Suns simply because they have yet to hit their stride and play consistent enough on both ends for one to gauge how good they really are.

Kawhi Leonard is 10th in the NBA is scoring averaging 26 points per game, ahead of LeBron at 12ths averaging 25 points. Leonard running mate Paul George is tallying 23 per, but is firing at 49 percent from the field.

The Lakers have 35 games remaining, 17 at home and 18 on the road, but the slate also includes 8 critical back-to backs.

The Clippers have just 34 remaining, 18 at home and 16 on the road with 7 back to backs.

NBA Notes

So there will be a lot more back-to-backs. In the first half of the schedule (as played), there were 6.6 back-to-backs per team. In the second half (as scheduled), there are 8.6 per team. At least one of the two teams will be on the second half of a back-to-back in 219 (40%) of the 546 games. That’s up from 32% (168/533) in the first half (as played).

Two quick reminders regarding this season…

1. It’s a 72-game season, with each team playing two games against each of the 15 teams in the opposite conference and three games against each of the other 14 teams within its own conference. (15 x 2) + (14 x 3) = 72

2. The top six teams in each conference qualify for the playoffs. Teams 7-10 qualify for a three-game play-in tournament, where the seventh and eight-place teams play for the No. 7 seed. The loser of that game would then play the winner of a game between the ninth and 10-place teams for the final playoff spot.

* Rest advantage = Didn’t play the day before. Opponent is playing the second game of a back-to-back.

Rest disadvantage = Playing the second game of a back-to-back. Opponent didn’t play the day before.

In the first half, teams were 78-61 (.561) in rest-advantage games, 46-31 at home and 32-30 on the road.

West remaining schedule breakdown

Team   Game  Home  Road   B2B      RA | RDA         OppPCT           .500+   OppO            OppD

Houston          38        21        17        10        5 | 4    0.523   23        17 | 11 14 | 10

San Antonio    40        17        23        11        8 | 6    0.520   20        19 | 10 10 | 15

Minnesota      36        19        17        8          3 | 4    0.518   19        16 | 10 13 | 12

L.A. Lakers       35        17        18        8          8 | 8    0.509   17        16 | 10 9 | 12

Portland          37        19        18        10        4 | 7    0.506   18        14 | 10 13 | 10

New Orleans   36        17        19        8          2 | 5    0.505   22        10 | 14 12 | 14

Phoenix           37        18        19        9          10 | 6  0.505   18        10 | 14 16 | 11

Memphis        40        18        22        11        8 | 5    0.501   21        16 | 16 14 | 14

LA Clippers     34        18        16        7          2 | 6    0.495   17        11 | 10 12 | 8

Oklahoma City 36        19        17        9          5 | 8    0.493   16        12 | 11 12 | 13

Golden State   35        18        17        8          6 | 4    0.490   12        13 | 11 13 | 13

Sacramento    36        16        20        8          5 | 5    0.489   17        6 | 14  17 | 13

Denver 36        20        16        8          6 | 7    0.488   15        11 | 11 12 | 10

Dallas  38        19        19        10        8 | 9    0.483   17        14 | 15 14 | 14

Utah    36        19        17        8          5 | 6    0.475   14        11 | 13 13 | 14

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here