The Los Angeles Lakers have the No. 1 seed in the West locked up with three regular-season games remaining, but concern remains heading into their matchup against the Indiana Pacers on Saturday evening near Orlando.
Since the NBA reconvened in the bubble on July 30, the Lakers rank last among the 22 teams in scoring average (98.8), field-goal percentage (40.8) and 3-point percentage (23.4).
“Offensively, we haven’t been great,” Lakers guard Danny Green told reporters following a 113-97 loss to the Houston Rockets on Thursday night. “Everybody knows that.”
Los Angeles will be up against an Indiana team that’s bunched with the Miami Heat and Philadelphia 76ers for the fourth, fifth and sixth-place spots in the East.
The Pacers have four regular-season games remaining, including two against the Heat.
Indiana won its first three games at the restart before losing 114-99 to the surging Phoenix Suns on Thursday night.
“I think we’re a little bit tired,” said Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon, who had 25 points, six rebounds, and six assists against the Suns. “This is a tough run that we’re on. A lot of games in a short number of days. We’re going to do our best to try to win games heading into the playoffs.”
The Pacers defeated the Lakers back in December and a win on Saturday would give them their first season sweep against Los Angeles since the 2015-16 season.
Lakers coach Frank Vogel was in his final season as head coach of the Pacers that year. Now, he’s trying to figure a way to beat Indiana, holding an 0-8 all-time record against his former team.
His record against Indiana won’t play a role in what lineup he puts in the floor against the Pacers, but it should be interesting to see how he manages his star players over the final three games.
LeBron James sat out against the Rockets because of a sore groin and is listed as questionable for Friday’s game.
Lakers center Anthony Davis has also been dealing with a variety of minor injuries since the restart. The team lists Davis as probable.
Those ailments have little to do with the poor shooting by the Lakers, especially from the 3-point stripe. Vogel believes they’re due for a turnaround, however.
“I do believe in percentages, I do believe in guys trusting in the work they’re putting in,” he said. “The law of averages plays out, and I’m OK getting all these misses out of the way now.”
One player who hasn’t been missing much is Pacers forward T.J. Warren, who’s averaging 33.8 points since July 30. Through Thursday, that was tied with Rockets guard James Harden for the best scoring average since the restart.
Warren had 16 points and 11 rebounds against the Suns, his second double-double since the restart after going without one the first 60 games of the season.
However, Warren is bothered by a sore right foot. He is listed as questionable.
–Field Level Media