The Los Angeles Lakers faced a tough test this past weekend, with matchups against two of the top teams in the league, facing the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night and the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday afternoon.
They responded to this test with strength, beating the Bucks by a score of 113-103 and the Clippers 112-103.
LeBron James played some of the best basketball he has played all year in these two games.
He scored 37 points with eight rebounds and eight assists against the Bucks. He also put up 28 points with seven rebounds and nine assists against the Clippers.
James appeared to take over the game at times in both of these matchups. He was tasked with guarding both Giannis Antetokounmpo, a matchup nightmare for every team and Kawhi Leonard, who has proven to be a challenging matchup for James in the past.
“If my teammates need me to take the challenge defensively or offensively, I’ll take it,”James said. “My teammates asked me to do it this weekend and the rest is history.”
Doc Rivers, the Clippers head coach, acknowledged after the game that the Lakers were the better prepared team in this matchup.
“The Lakers just played more physical, they were into it more, they executed more and they deserved the game,” Rivers said.
The Lakers undoubtedly have one of the best duos in the game, with James and Anthony Davis being a great fit and playing well together in their first season as teammates.
The question for the Lakers is whether or not they have enough depth beyond those two players to beat teams the caliber of the Clippers and the Bucks in a seven-game playoff series.
Avery Bradley, the Lakers’ starting guard, was the only player besides James and Davis to score double-digit points against the Clippers.
He put up 24 points while shooting 6-12 from behind the three-point line.
Against the Bucks, the only double digit scorer other than James and Davis was Kyle Kuzma, who scored 11 points off the bench.
However, when you have two players as dominant offensively as James and Davis — who can both score 30-plus points in a game — it is not necessary to have a lot of other high volume scorers.
Dwight Howard has turned in some good performances this season, but the team divides playing time up between him and JaVale McGee, their starting center, somewhat sporadically.
The Lakers have several valuable role players that fit well with their style of play, but they could use a bit more help with three-point shooting.
The Lakers addressed this last week by signing Dion Waiters, who is an accomplished three-point shooter that was cut a month ago after being traded from Miami to Memphis.
Waiters only appeared in three games for the heat this season and comes with some baggage,
Still, he is a former teammate of James, which could have played a role in his signing with the Lakers.
After beating the Clippers for the first time in their third meeting this season and defeating the NBA’s top team, the Bucks and the Lakers look stronger than they have all season, they are the team to beat in the NBA right now.
There is no reason to think that James and Davis will not continue to dominate the way they are right now. They seem to be a force to reckoned with as the postseason quickly approaches.
Janssen can be reached at [email protected].