Lakers Poll: On the schedule
That the Lakers have enjoyed a home heavy schedule in building their 18-4 record hasn't exactly been overlooked on the list of analytical talking points. By now, most fans can recite the statistic like they might a favorite line from Airplane! ("Joey, do you like movies about gladiators?") or The Simpsons ("I don't have to be careful, I've got a gun!"); 17 of the first 21 at Staples Center...
As the LAT's Mike Bresnahan points out, the road gets tougher from here, not just because of the obvious (they're actually on the road), but because the schedule-maker has a few tricks in store. The Lakers have already played on the second night of back-to-backs in both Denver and Utah. There are more tricky combos coming up over the next two months:
"...22 of 32 Lakers games are scheduled in back-to-back sets, a majority of them on the road. Not since the lockout-condensed NBA schedule in 1999 have the Lakers had such a rush of back-to-back attacks.The fun begins anew tonight at Chicago and Wednesday at Milwaukee, continuing Saturday at New Jersey and Sunday at Detroit. Some other notable double dips over the next eight weeks: Christmas Day at home against Cleveland followed by an immediate departure to Sacramento for a Dec. 26 game; back-to-back lung-burners against run-and-gun teams Phoenix and Golden State (Dec. 28-29); two sides of the Texas triangle in San Antonio and Dallas (Jan. 12-13); an eight-game Eastern trip that begins in Cleveland and New York (Jan. 21-22) and ends with an electrifying starter at Boston (Jan. 31) and a potential trap game the next night at Memphis; and a home game against Denver (Feb. 5) followed by a visit to their personal house of horrors, Portland..."
So how much should a Lakers fan worry?
Glad I asked. Click below the jump for the poll.
Some of those sequences above are no joke. Sacto after what will certainly be an emotional Christmas Day game could be tough. Memphis is playing better, and again comes after what will be a highly charged game in Boston. Any double dips against the Texas teams can mean trouble. Back-to-back with Denver and Portland is burly, too.
Still, I'm not terribly concerned. Last season, LA's early season schedule was again home heavy (16 of their first 24 were played locally), and while there weren't as many b-to-b's, the Lakers still had to venture out into the wild yonders of whatever color and locale. They finished with 29 road wins, and I think they'll be in the neighborhood again this year. We're talking about a veteran team, not a bunch of young players feeling things out (though developing consistency among bench players away from home remains a priority, manageable in my estimation). Moreover, one major challenge of playing in another team's building- the hostile crowd- doesn't necessarily apply to the Lakers. On many nights in many NBA cities, there are a huge number of Lakers/Kobe fans filling seats, something that could be felt even more acutely given how some franchises are struggling to draw.
They'll lose some games, some that seem reasonable (Denver last month, for example), some that won't (Charlotte, anyone?). But in the end, assuming good health the record should be what we all expect- something with a win total in the low-to-mid 60s.