Frank Vogel Acknowledges It's 'Definitely A Challenge' To Stay Sharp In Between Rounds

Melissa Rohlin

It's another long break for the Lakers inside the NBA bubble. 

The Lakers will have five days in between closing their second-round playoff series against the Houston Rockets on Saturday and opening the Western Conference Finals on Friday.

It's become something of a trend for them. 

Before the first round of the playoffs, they were the last team to know their opponent as they watched the NBA's first-ever play-in game between Portland and Memphis. Then after beating Portland in the first round in five games, they had six days between games because the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder series went seven games. Now, after beating Houston in five games, they have yet another extended layoff as the Clippers and Denver Nuggets play Game 7 on Tuesday. 

"It’s definitely a challenge, there’s no doubt about that," Lakers coach Frank Vogel said in a videoconference Monday. "And the message with our group today is: You’re either getting better or you’re getting worse. And we not only want to stay sharp, we want to get better every time we step on the basketball court. So, that’s got to be your focus."

The Lakers lost Game 1 of both the first and second rounds of the playoffs, both times mentioning the fact that their opponent had come off a life or death game while they had been off for a period of time. 

But Vogel added there's upsides to both scenarios. 

"I do believe there’s a benefit to teams playing in a Game 7 and winning a Game 7 that the team that is resting does not have," Vogel said. "I think there are definitely still benefits over the duration of a series in getting your legs under you, getting your sleep patterns regulated a little bit more by having a few extra days and having a few extra days to focus on the preparation. So, definitely some benefits there."

Vogel spent Sunday relaxing, watching NFL games and Game 6 between the Clippers and Nuggets.

He acknowledged that his assistant coaches started preparing for the Clippers a bit more when they had a 3-1 lead, but said they'll be ready for either matchup. 

Alex Caruso added he's been impressed by the Nuggets' tenacity. 

"They were down 3-1 in this series, I think everybody counted them out, and here they are again, forcing a Game 7," Caruso said Monday. "It’ll be interesting to see how they respond, but it’s a big emotional as well as physical task to come back from that many games down. I’m looking forward to it. Obviously whoever we play is going to be a good team playing well because they’ve had to beat some good people to get there."

For now, the Lakers are just focusing on themselves. 

After the Lakers beat Portland, they had a pizza party. Vogel added they'll try to mix in some more fun things over the next week to keep things interesting. 

"Definitely doing things to just try to change it up, mix it up," Vogel said. "It does feel like Groundhog’s Day here in the bubble for as long as we’ve been here. So, just trying to mix it up a little bit and change the scenery."