It was always going to be tough for the Lakers to negotiate games with no LeBron James or AD. But they seem to be making a good fist of it.
Nobody would have expected the team to win 3 games out of 4 without their 2 best two-way players. Prior to his injury, LeBron was a favorite for MVP honors and a lock for NBA All-Defensive teams. He even had a shout in the Defensive Player of the Year sweepstakes.
This changed when the King collided his foot with Solomon Hill on March 20th. The high ankle sprain he suffered is going to keep him out for 4 weeks or more. This is the first time somebody has ever injured James in-game (the Draymond knee in 2018 didn’t directly injure him).
The Lakers will now look to negotiate an utterly challenging road trip ahead of them. They face a gauntlet of playoff teams in this time – the Clippers, Heat, Nets, Knicks and the Hornets are up next.
How are the Lakers dealing defensively with the absence of LeBron James and AD
The Lakers’ starting lineup at the start of this season was defensively elite. The 5-man lineup of LeBron, Gasol, AD, KCP and Schroder were good for a defensive rating of 103.5 points per 100 possession.
This mark is over 3 points per 100 possessions better than the Sixers’ defensive rating for the season. The Sixers are second behind the Lakers in terms of team defensive rating for the season thus far.
However, they’ve adapted to life without James and AD. They’re now good for a mark of 103.5 points per 100 possessions in 8 games without James – the same mark as that of the starting lineup.
Lakers tem o 3° melhor Defensive Rating da liga mesmo sem LeBron e Davis
103.5 DRtg, perdendo apenas pra 76ers e Jazz pic.twitter.com/PBAsp74DLQ
— Random Laker (31-18) (@LakerRandom) April 3, 2021
The Lakers will be eminently pleased if they can keep up this defensive intensity in their 6 upcoming road games. The results may not be in their favor, but a strong defense is the best playoff weapon a team can have.