The LA Lakers put forth an impressive regular season that has guided them to the top spot in the Western Conference playoff seeding. The Lakers have the Portland Trail Blazers lined up for their first-round matchup. They are pitted against a tough opponent, with some questioning their chances in the opening round. With that in mind, LA may have given LeBron James and his teammates the right motivation to guide past the Trail Blazers.
Lakers back in the playoffs
It has been seven years since the Lakers last participated in the playoffs, which has seen several seasons of struggles.
LA broke through in the 2019-20 campaign behind their veteran-laden roster, led by LeBron James and Anthony Davis. The duo has seamlessly fit well alongside each other from the get-go in their brief tenure. Davis has been the foundation of their play on both ends of the floor as the top-scoring option and anchor defensively.
James has put together an impressive 17th campaign that saw him lead the league with a career-high 10.5 assists per game while leading the Lakers to the top playoff spot in the Western Conference. That has lined up an entertaining matchup against the red-hot Portland Trail Blazers in the first round.
There are plenty of expectations laid ahead of the Lakers, but the team may have just given them the ultimate motivation to get past the Trail Blazers.
Lakers will wear Black Mamba jerseys if they reach second round
The Lakers have set the bar quite high for their expectations this season with eyes toward competing for an NBA title.
LA may need a bit more to bring the best out of themselves against a tough first-round opponent in the Trail Blazers. According to Brad Turner of the LA Times, the Lakers are planning to wear their Black Mamba jersey in honor of Kobe Bryant if they move past Portland.
The sports world is still coming to terms with the reality that Bryant and his daughter tragically passed away in January in a helicopter crash. The jerseys the Lakers are planning on wearing if that scenario comes to fruition were introduced in 2018 as part of the team’s “Lore Series” look.
It was designed by Bryant that features a snakeskin pattern with yellow accents along with 16 stars that represent the franchise’s 16 NBA titles. Nike recently announced that the company would re-release the jersey having both of the Hall of Famer’s numbers during Kobe Week that begins next Monday.
The opportunity to honor Bryant in another manner certainly means much to many of the Lakers aside from LeBron James, who got a tattoo in honor of the NBA legend. He has also worn a finger sleeve with No. 24 on it to pay respects to five-time NBA champion since his passing.
Many growing skeptical of Lakers
Throughout the season, the Lakers have been pegged as one of the favorites to win the NBA title.
The outside doubt began to pile up due to their struggles since the season restarted in the NBA Orlando bubble. That stems from their offensive struggles as they have had problems shooting with efficiency while their overall production declined.
Through the first few games in the restart, they were the only team averaging fewer than 100 points per game. Their offensive numbers were far below their standards in the eight-game regular season before the playoffs. They finished last with 106.4 points per game, 19th with a 43.8% field goal percentage, and last with a 29.8% three-point percentage. Before the Orlando Bubble, they led the league in field goal percentage.
LA hasn’t looked like the team was viewed by many as a title contender, but the playoffs are a chance to bounce back and prove worthy of those expectations. All that must start with cooling down a red-hot Trail Blazer team in the first round.