Home / Sport / It’s quite interesting: the LeBron James Lakers are the number 1 seed, but their flaw is increasingly evident

It’s quite interesting: the LeBron James Lakers are the number 1 seed, but their flaw is increasingly evident

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Highlights: Thunder vs. Lakers

Five minutes into the second quarter against the Oklahoma City Thunder, LeBron James galloped across the field and hurled himself against the paint. He bumped into his main defender, Lugentz Dort, but by then two other Thunder defenders – Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Darius Bazley had merged. A fourth, Abdel Nader, lent a hand on James’s passage to Dion Waiters in the corner. The waiters managed to tie up the ball, which he then put on the floor to create a contested 1

2-foot fadeaway that hit the board before it touched the edge:

The end result was particularly bad, but possession serves as a useful microcosm of the Lakers’ 105-86 loss (box score) on Wednesday. James, who finished with 19 points in 7 to 19, saw defenders help every time he tried to create. The same goes for Anthony Davis, who scored only nine points in filming 3 out of 11 and their teammates were unable to pay OKC.

Two days after conquering the seed n. 1 in the West, this seems like the type of game that should be considered meaningless. The Lakers fired a 3-point putrid 5-for-37 (13.5 percent) and, according to Cleaning The Glass, scored 85.1 points per 100 possessions in non-garbage time and 65.6 per 100 in the half curve, which are both the lowest marks of the whole season.

But isn’t it interesting that, just four days before, they were almost as bad? In a 107-92 defeat on Saturday, the Toronto Raptors held them at 86.1 points per 100 possessions in non-garbage time and 71.9 per 100 in the half-turn. Here are three of the many possessions that have gone nowhere:

What do you think, Russ?

The inconvenient truth about the Lakers is that few teams in the bubble seemed more uncomfortable on offense. On the reopening evening they managed to win two points on the Clippers, but Davis’ individual domination, which scored 34 points and shot 16-on-17 from the free throw line, obscured that they had great difficulty finding points in any other way. Los Angeles scored 102 points for 100 possessions in that win, his eleventh worst offensive performance of the season. That number would rank dead last in the league if sustained, as would the 86.7 points per 100 possessions that the Lakers scored in midfield.

Even Laker’s most ardent hater would admit that it is not wise to jump to catastrophic conclusions based on a four-game champion after a four-month layoff. Los Angeles has not yet faced a defensive stance and is attempting to integrate Dion Waiters and J.R. Smith. Presumably, Danny Green won’t continue to lose so many open 3s. The Lakers’ bubble fights, however, indicate a problem that has lasted for one season: their mediocre offense in midfield.

Even before losing Avery Bradley and Rajon Rondo (the latter temporarily), they relied excessively on James’ direction and were a poor 3-point team in terms of volume and precision. They celebrated in transition and played a greedy defense of almost everyone, but in the middle of the pitch, their offense ranked 15th when the break began, with essentially the same efficiency as the Phoenix Suns.

Nothing we have seen in Orlando suggests that the Lakers have solved this problem, to put it generously. If they do, they will need the likes of Kyle Kuzma, Waiters or Rondo to play consistently when they go deep into the playoffs – a dangerous proposition – or they will need James to dominate the ball even more (and, based on to their on / off numbers, they almost never rest). Nobody targets weak points like him, but the other contenders don’t have many.

Unlike last season, Los Angeles has not saddled James with a roster completely devoid of shot and full of players who need the ball in their hands. Instead, he has a co-star of the MVP caliber but a shaky support cast, and his path to his fourth league leaves little room for mistakes.

The most alarming thing about Wednesday’s loss was not the margin but the opponent: the Thunder are one of the most superficial playoff teams in recent memory and their lonely threat on the bench, Dennis Schroder, had left the campus for birth of his son. But it was Los Angeles that seemed very heavy.

Previously it is quite interesting: Trey Burke says he is not surprised by his scoring explosion; should anyone be?

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