What's Next For Lakers After The All-Star Break
The All-Star break is almost over, meaning the Lakers will have a 29-game sprint before the playoffs begin.
At 35 years old, LeBron James is trying to take a team that missed the playoffs last season to its 17th NBA championship. The Lakers have had momentary blips so far this season, including defensive breakdowns, inconsistent play from role players and a four-game losing streak -- but other than that, they're in prime position to make a deep playoff run.
They're in first place in the Western Conference with a record of 41-12 and have the best road record in the league at 23-5.
After the team's last game against Denver, James said he likes where the Lakers are heading into the final portion of the season.
"We are where we need to be," James told reporters Feb. 12. "We’ll come back off the break and get ready for the final stretch of the regular season. You don’t put too much into it. You understand you played some good basketball along the way, played some not good basketball. But you want to continue to get better and continue to trust the process. We look forward to when we get back, getting back on the floor and see how far we’ll continue to grow."
Immediately after the break, the Lakers have some tough tests ahead of them. They host Memphis on Friday and Boston on Sunday. The Grizzlies (28-26) are in eighth-place in the Western Conference, while the Celtics (38-16) are in third-place in the Eastern Conference.
James said the Lakers don't talk about the importance of finishing with the No. 1 seed heading into the postseason.
"At the end of the day, I think every Western Conference team that will make the playoffs can win on someone else’s floor," James told reporters Feb. 12. "For us, we would love to play in front of our home fans as much as we can. We love being there with our Laker faithful. But, at the end of the day, you go out and play each and every game like it’s its own game. You can’t worry about what could happen the following day. You can only look at the present."
The Lakers' superstars got a shortened break, with James and Anthony Davis playing in the All-Star game and Dwight Howard participating in the dunk contest.
But James, a 16-time All-Star, said he'd figure out a way to get his mind and body a bit of rest before the team practices Thursday.
"I try, I try," James told reporters Feb. 12. "I truly try. I got a couple days now where I can try to get a break mentally. We’ll see what happens. All-Star break is obviously for guys that are not a part of the All-Star weekend. I’m very excited for my teammates to be able to get some rest, decompress and get away from the game and come back fresh. And, [I] will be locked in for them no matter how much rest I can get. It doesn’t matter."