LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers have big aspirations for the upcoming season.
After making a series of solid and league-changing moves, they have a roster that can compete with the very best.
Still, holding that Larry O'Brien at the end of the season will be no easy feat, and will require some serious effort on the part of the Lakers. According to Richard Jefferson, the key to a successful playoff run may just be how they play leading up to it.
Here's what he said in an episode of The Jump:
“When you have such a veteran group, but you don’t want to be battling, we saw that. You’re playing against the number 2 seed last year. You’re having to fight the whole way, you want to be in that top four, you want to get that first-round under your belt, you want to have a home-court advantage. You want to be able to ease into the postseason, which they were not able to do last season.
It puts a lot more tax on you, but if they get in there healthy, and let’s say they have the first round at home, maybe even the second round. But number 1 seed, that takes a lot out of you.”
Last season, the Lakers fell to the seventh seed after months of inconsistent play. Having won the play-in game against Golden State, they entered the series hobbled and exhausted, only to face off against a young and hungry Suns team in Phoenix for Games 1 and 2.
The Lakers won two games before eventually losing to the Suns in 6 games.
This upcoming season, with LeBron only having aged another year, it's imperative that L.A. play well enough to avoid the play-in altogether.
If they can secure the fourth seed or higher, it could go a long way. Not only will their opponent be a lower seed, but they'll be able to coast through the final stretch of the regular season without having to worry about potentially being knocked out via play-in.
We'll just have to see how long it take the Lakers to get their act together, and if they're in store for a better ending than the one they endured last year.