After the Los Angeles Lakers’ Game 1 loss to the Phoenix Suns on Sunday afternoon, LeBron James preached something he and Frank Vogel have said in recent days. That preaching included the fact that Game 1s have “always been a feel-out game” for LeBron (per Harrison Faigen/Silver Screen & Roll), which is hopefully the case in light of the team’s 99-90 loss that saw the team never re-take the lead after losing it halfway through the 1st quarter. Despite the negative outcome, Frank Vogel had a similarly calm demeanor saying the team would look at the tape to see what went wrong, a sentiment that Vogel, LeBron, and Anthony Davis all expressed multiple times in the 2020 NBA Playoffs. In those playoffs, the Lakers lost two of the four Game 1s they played on their way to a 17th championship.
Before Vogel even got to the film that he will inevitably be watching today, he quickly addressed the fact that he was not pleased with the Lakers’ offense. Specifically, he stated that they did not do a good enough job of taking advantage of the extra help and double-teams that the Suns were sending Davis’ way. Vogel talks about this below in response to a question regarding the team’s success with LeBron off and on the court (via Harrison Faigen/Silver Screen & Roll):
“We’ll have to look at the tape to see if there is anything we can do in all ways. Both sides of the ball, rotations, things like that. We’ve been pretty good of late with him out and obviously had half our season it feels like without him, so we can be better there. I think again, the attention that AD was drawing defensively limited us in that stretch, and we can be better in taking advantage of that attention.”
Either way, Frank Vogel was happy with the way they played defensively. Sure, Devin Booker scored 34 points while Deandre Ayton had 21 points on 11 attempts, but the Suns as a whole only scored 99 points. It’ll be on Vogel, LeBron (18 points), Davis (13 points), and the rest of the Lakers to unlock the Suns’ defense to put up the points needed to aid their #1 ranked defense.
As they did against the Trail Blazers and Rockets last year, hopefully, a Game 1 loss is the wake-up call they need to improve in the film room and get back on track in Game 2.