NBA

Are the Lakers Unstoppable Now?

By Provided By Sports Book Reviews December 02, 2019

The Lakers are on fire, as of November 29 they're 16-2 this season and not many teams will be able to slow them down. Some online sports betting sites even favor them to win the NBA Championship over teams like the Clippers, Bucks, Rockets and Raptors.

What makes the Lakers so tough to beat this season? Read on for the three-part answer. 

LeBron James at Point Guard

Last Thursday's game in New Orleans proves why making LeBron James the starting point guard was the right move by the Lakers. James sparked another Lakers comeback, helping come from behind and beat the Pelicans 114-110. The three-time NBA champion made sure the Lakers would end their four-game road trip with a perfect record and he reached another milestone in the process.

With his 29 points, James became the fourth player in league history to score over 33,000 career points, joining Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone and Kobe Bryant. He also had 11 assists and five rebounds.

LeBron James leads the NBA, averaging 11.0 assists per game and many have been to Anthony Davis. The mood at the Smoothie King Center was tense because of Davis' return but James is no stranger to hostile crowds and he even said that AD received some cheers.

"I mean they still love them [in New Orleans] you heard a lot of cheers as well... you heard some boos obviously, some people boo just because they don't even know why they just want to be a part of the spectacle."

Anthony Davis' Effort at Both Ends of the Floor

AD had his first game at the Smoothie King Center since the blockbuster trade that sent him from New Orleans to Los Angeles and he played inspired basketball, leading the Lakers with 41 points and nine rebounds in 37 minutes, becoming the first player in NBA history to score 40 points in his first game against a former team.

Davis is averaging 26.1 points, 9.0 rebounds, 3.6 assists 2.8 blocks and 1.6 steals in 34.9 minutes over 17 games. As I write this, he has a career average of 2.4 blocks in 483 career games but this season he has 48 blocks already,

Anthony Davis (plus-6.7 Box Plus/Minus) leads the Lakers in points, rebounds, blocks, steals and Player Efficiency Rating (PER) and he is clearly a top 5 NBA MVP (plus-2.4 Offensive Box Plus/Minus) and Defensive Player of the Year (plus-4.3 Defensive Box Plus-Minus) candidate.

"We want to make sure that when we come in, we have one goal in mind and that's to come together and win a championship," Anthony Davis told Heavy.com's Brandon 'Scoop B' Robinson in September.

"Do whatever I can to help this team win a championship. That's the main goal. That's our goal and we are going to come in with the mindset that we're all thinking. This is the year." Davis has clear aspirations and if he keeps playing like this the Lakers will go far in the playoffs.

Kyle Kuzma Getting Comfortable as a Sixth Man

Kyle Kuzma missed the entire preseason and the first four games of the season with a stress reaction in his foot but he is finding his way in his new role as a Sixth Man.

The Lakers are playing extremely well but all teams have areas of improvement and Kuzma, who is expected to play a major role in the offense as their third-best player, is still adjusting to coming off the bench, which is understandable.

Kuzma probably did not expect to be a Sixth Man after starting 68 of his 70 games last season and he wants to break through as soon as possible.

"No. I'm not patient at all," Kuzma told Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times after Wednesday's game in New Orleans. "That's why sometimes it's hard."

The 24-year-old had 16 points, five rebounds and two assists in 24 minutes off the bench against the Pelicans and he is a huge piece of the puzzle for the Lakers. His numbers are down but it is a result of him having less playing time.

He averaged 18.7 points over 33.1 minutes last year and this season he is averaging a career-low 12.3 points in 23.0 minutes. Getting used to playing less has to be tough for him but he is playing his part so far, making 46.7 percent of his shots, 36.2 percent of his 3-point attempts and 77.8 percent of his free-throws.

"It's tough sometimes, but you just have to be positive, have an even-keeled mind-set. But that's easier said than done," Kuzma said. "It's something I've got to kind of figure out. But it isn't anything I can't handle."

He knows it's "part of sacrifice and trying to be on a winning team." I see him thriving in this new role, the Lakers need him to keep playing at a high level when he enters the court.

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    Jimmy Butler lamented another slow start from the Miami Heat as the Boston Celtics held on for a 117-106 win in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

    Miami's lead in the series was cut to 2-1 as Boston raced out to an early lead and saw it out, with four Celtics players scoring at least 20 points.

    The Heat had overturned a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit to win Game 1, while they rallied from a 15-point hole in the third quarter to take Game 2, yet this time around Miami, who trailed by 20 points at one point in Game 3, were unable to muster another comeback.

    "I think it gets old, playing from behind consistently," Heat swingman Butler told reporters.

    "Especially against a great team like Boston and what they bring to the table."

    Boston led 31-22 after the first quarter and though Miami scored 32 fourth-quarter points it was a case of too little, too late.

    "We've got to start the game how we start the fourth," Miami's All-Star Bam Adebayo added.

    "I feel like we're not the type of team where we can go through the motions and try and figure out everything in the first half, and then in the third or fourth, we just try to turn it on. It's not like that. We are not that type of team."

    It was just Miami's second loss of this postseason and Adebayo is keen for the Heat to start hotter in Game 4 on Wednesday.

    "We've got to play with detail," he said.

    "I feel like we've got to work on our offense a little bit. They got us on our heels. They were out there hooping it up and having fun. I feel like that was the big difference in the game.

    "They jumped out on us, and I guess they got tired of us being down 13 and coming back and winning. We've just got to do a better job of not letting ourselves get in a big deficit."

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    Having lost second-half leads of 14 and 15 points respectively in the opening two games of the Eastern Conference finals, reports about heated disagreements between players were rife.

    Coach Brad Stevens reportedly held a late-night meeting with leading Celtics players to discuss any grievances and Game 3 saw his team get back into the playoff series with a 117-106 triumph in Orlando.

    With the series close again at 2-1, Tatum – who thrived with 25 points, 14 rebounds and 8 assists on Saturday – felt debate over their locker room had been overblown.

    "It's been normal," he said, per ESPN. "Anybody that's played sports, played in a team game, we're not supposed to be happy being down 0-2. If you are, then you don't care. We care about this.

    "Basketball is a game of emotions. So we want guys to be frustrated, be upset, to care. 

    "It's nothing personal. We just have to figure some things out. It's nothing more than that.

    "You're supposed to talk it out, figure it out and come together for the next game. Leave what happened in the past in the past because you can't change it."

    Gordon Hayward returned after a month out with an ankle injury, registering six points, five rebounds, four assists, three steals and a block in 31 minutes.

    Discussing his return, Tatum added: "It meant everything.

    "Obviously, we played a while without him. And I've said it before: crazy that anyone would think we're better without him. 

    "We're so much better when he's out there and so much more dynamic, so much more versatile when he's out there.

    "It felt great to have the full team back. He played great in his first game, and he's going to continue to get better, get his feel back. So to have him back is everything."

    Four Celtics players topped 20 points, with Jaylen Brown, who echoed Tatum's comments on team cohesion, leading the way with 26, plus seven rebounds, five assists and three steals.

    "There's some great guys in that locker room," said Brown. 

    "A lot of emotion, a lot of passion, but we're a family and we're here for each other at the end of the day. We exemplified that when we came out together. We stayed together during some tough moments.

    "But we didn't hang our head. We kept our will high and persevered to win this game."

    Kemba Walker (21 points) and Marcus Smart (20 points) also had productive outings and the teams will now rest during a brief break in this series until Game 4 on Wednesday.

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    The Boston Celtics responded in the Eastern Conference finals against the Miami Heat with a 117-106 win in Game 3 on Saturday.

    Trailing 2-0 after giving up big leads in the opening two games, the Celtics bounced back at the Walt Disney World Resort.

    Celtics star Jayson Tatum led the way with a double-double of 25 points and 14 rebounds, plus eight assists, as Boston reduced Miami's series lead to 2-1.

    Jaylen Brown finished with 26 points on 11-of-17 shooting, while Kemba Walker contributed 21 points and Marcus Smart poured in 20.

    In another boost for Boston, Gordon Hayward made his return from an ankle injury in his first appearance since August 17.

    He contributed six points in more than 30 minutes off the bench.

    Bam Adebayo again starred for Miami with 27 points and 16 rebounds, while Tyler Herro impressed off the bench with 22 points.

    But Miami never led in Game 3 and were unable to produce another comeback after trailing by 13 points at half-time.

    Boston pushed out to a 20-point lead during the fourth quarter before Miami rallied, but the Heat fell short.

     

    Nuggets face Lakers

    The Los Angeles Lakers will look to go 2-0 up in the Western Conference finals when they take on the Denver Nuggets again on Sunday.

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