Wednesday, January 20, 2010
They'd better do it on the road...
By Brian Kamenetzky
The Lakers may be facing a tough eight game road trip- perhaps you heard?- but things don't get any easier once it ends.
Argue if you'd like too much is being made of the Lakers' upcoming eight game roadie, but there are some pretty practical reasons for the purple and gold to pile up as many wins as possible over the next 13ish days. Things don't get any easier once the trip is over.
In fact, they get a lot tougher. Despite three back-to-backs and a pair of hyper-marquee games, during the much-ballyhooed octet the Lakers will only see three teams currently at or above .500- Cleveland, Boston, and Memphis. In February, though, soft competition won't be an issue. The Lakers may only play 12 games (exotic 28 day month, All Star break), but 10 are against teams with winning records and five of those are on the road. Even factoring in dates with Philly and Golden State and their 25 combined victories, through Wednesday's games the winning percentage of the February schedule is .560. Send those dogs to the pound and it jumps to .608.
Yikes. Two dates against Denver, trips to the Rose Garden, Salt Lake City, and Dallas. Visits from San Antonio and Boston. Even traditionally softer games like Charlotte (okay, softer for other franchises) and Memphis aren't what they once were. Those two squads are as hot as any in the league.
The moral of the story? Insofar as things like the league's best record and home court advantage are concerned, the Lakers have their work cut out for them and there isn't much margin for error. Cleveland, an .800 team at home, has played only 18 of 43 games at the Q.