In celebrating the return to basketball, we will be previewing potential first-round playoff series between the Los Angeles Lakers and the six teams who could finish as the eighth seed after eight seeding games in Orlando. Today’s team is the New Orleans Pelicans.
As time in the Orlando bubble marches on, we take a look at one of the most exciting playoff possibilities in Los Angeles Lakers history. The Lakers and New Orleans Pelicans will forever have both history and future in the heart of their respective franchises. Originally, it was the failed Chris Paul trade, but years have passed and another NOLA franchise player found their way to the Lakers in Anthony Davis. This time, there were no basketball reasons to veto the deal.
The Lakers have a chance at securing a 17th championship led by Davis and LeBron James, while the Pelicans are developing a collection of old friends including Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram with the budding Zion Williamson. It’s only right that the two lock horns in a playoff series of the old and new guard (Get it? Rondo? Lonzo?).
The Lakers won all four matchups against the Pelicans this season, including two with Williamson in the Pels’ lineup. All games were high scoring affairs with the Lakers averaging 119.2 points per game. Head coach Frank Vogel will have to keep his team going uptempo to match the Pelicans’ intensity. The Brow led the team in scoring at 36 points per game but missed one game due to knee soreness.
Anthony Davis Is The Key
AD has been pivotal in the games against his former team. In his first meeting back at Smoothie King Arena, he put up 41 points. He welcomed Josh Hart, Ingram, and the aforementioned Ball back to Staples with 46 points.
Even more impressive than these numbers are what Davis does in the playoffs. He’s averaging 30.5 points per game on 52.6 percent shooting and 12 rebounds. He joins Michael Jordan, a very good friend of mine, as the only other player to average 30 or more points per game in the postseason.
It’s not often that a team has to game-plan for a player of Zion’s youth, but he’s special. In the two games against the Lakers, he put 29 points in February and a career-best of 35 in the most recent game on March 1st. Zion is LIVING at the free-throw line against them. He’s averaging 16 attempts per game.
No one has the prototype game to match him minute for minute, but a combination of the Lakers size and LeBron’s wisdom will be the gameplan to chip away at his energy quite like the matchup in March. We had the opportunity to witness the unstoppable force meeting the immovable object.
Despite the threat of Zion blowing the roof off of the bubble, the Lakers should still remain overwhelming favorites against the Pelicans. Davis and LeBron are the overwhelmingly better players in the matchup and they should be immediately known to start the series. The goal is to make it out of the series in one piece. Younger legs tend to take a fearless approach in these kinds of environments.