In what was a thrilling overtime finish, the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Denver Nuggets, 120-116.
The matchup had all the energy and intensity of an NBA playoff game as the Lakers and Nuggets are currently the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds in the Western Conference respectively, thus adding even more intrigue as a win for either team could prove to have massive implications.
After the game, James emphasized that he and the rest of the team do not bring up the possibility of grabbing the No. 1 seed, via Spectrum SportsNet:
“We don’t talk about it. We really don’t. We just play the game the right way, we don’t talk about it. We see the standings, we know what it is, but we don’t talk about it. We go out and say, ‘Hey, we’re the number one seed, let’s play.’ Nah, we just go play our game and if it happens, it happens.”
The Lakers have sat atop the Western Conference for most of the 2019-20 NBA season, a pleasant surprise given all the coaching and roster turnover in the 2019 NBA offseason. Most teams experience a rough patch in trying to adjust to all the moving pieces, but Los Angeles has done an amazing job of getting everyone on the same page quickly and the buy-in from everyone in the organization has clearly paid off.
James-led teams have historically done well in the playoffs regardless of their seeding, so it is not a shock to hear that he is not too concerned about finishing first this time around. Although the Western Conference features much stronger competition, the Lakers boast enough talent and depth to comfortably take on whoever they see come April and May.
However, there are still clear improvements to be made as the buyout market features several players who can come in and play a role for an already strong Los Angeles roster. The team could definitely use another backup point guard or defensive wing player, so it will be worth monitoring who the front office can bring in in the next couple of weeks.
Still, a 41-12 record at the 2020 NBA All-Star break is nothing short of impressive and something James and the purple and gold should be proud of.