After a solid victory over the Boston Celtics Tuesday night, the Los Angeles Lakers must be inspired to face the Memphis Grizzlies tonight. The Purple and Gold must enter a winning streak to improve their record and start putting pressure on the top teams in the West.
Right now, the Golden State Warriors and Phoenix Suns are the hottest squads in the league, and the Lakers must aspire to match or surpass their level. If they don't climb positions to the top 4 of the conference, they'll likely face either Warriors or Suns in the postseason.
That's a big challenge for them early in the playoffs, but Shaquille O'Neal believes they will avoid those matchups and finish as one of the four teams with home-court advantage in the West. Debating with Charles Barkley, the Big Diesel predicted the Lakers will turn things around and become a solid contender (3:02).
"Let me tell you what, they're not going to be 4th or 5th (in the West). They don't want that 7th or 8th spot come playoff time. They do not want Phoenix or golden state in the first round, so they're definitely going to turn up..."
The Lakers are yet to win four consecutive games this season and the time to change that is now. However, they'll play five of their next six showdowns in hostile environment, which won't make things any easier for them.
Still, Shaq is hopeful that his former team can bounce back, find their touch and demonstrate why many people considered them championship favorites before the start of the season.
LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook and the rest of players have a lot of work to do, but they're not backing down to the challenge. If this team plays like they're expected to do so, the rest of the conference and the league will have a hard job trying to beat them.