The Los Angeles Lakers are just four games away from the end of a difficult regular season. After winning a championship and then facing the shortest offseason in NBA history, the Lakers could not escape the injury bug or the health and safety protocols put in place by the league amid the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Alex Caruso is among several players who have had to miss time due to both this season, entering the league’s protocols for the pandemic towards the beginning of the season, and missing sporadic games due to injury since then. Not to mention the fact that LeBron James and Anthony Davis have each missed over 25 games.
When asked if he’s still confident that the Lakers can turn things around despite likely having to play in the dreaded play-in tournament, Caruso put together a brilliant answer about the mindset of him and the team moving forward.
“I can’t speak for the rest of the team but for me I guess it’s just knowing what we’re capable of,” Caruso said. “Having a good core back from last year, obviously when you have AD and Bron you have a chance to win any basketball game against anybody. That gives me confidence but Frank [Vogel] has done a great job of telling us that there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Even a couple games ago he told us that two weeks from now we’re gonna look a lot different than we did then.
“It’s such a grind, you got every excuse in the world for us this year, we’ve had injuries, we’ve had COVID sit-outs, we’ve had the short offseason. We’ve been given every excuse, or every opportunity to make an excuse, but champions don’t make excuses, champions find a way to get it done. So that’s something that we’re trying to battle through, we’ve got great leaders on this team, we’ve got great leadership in the front office and the coaching staff who have done a great job of just trying to make it to the next day. Here we are trying to do the same thing with four games left in the regular season.”
Caruso said that another source of confidence is how well they managed to play with James or Dennis Schroder in the lineup at all. “We’re playing against some of the best teams, some of the best players in the West right now these last couple games and we won two of them, had a chance to win the third one without two of our main ball-handlers, two of our main guys that have played really well for us this year.”
“So if anything that should give us confidence moving forward regardless of when they come back, that we can get it done with what we have now. And like I said in previous pressers after games, I’m a little naive in that I’m confident in our team regardless of who’s out there. That might come with some postseason success last year, that might just be me being a little naive to reality. But I truly believe that anybody we put out on the court, if we play how we’re capable of playing, we can win games. So I don’t really have a true answer but we’re just gonna keep working and when those guys come back they’re gonna be ready and we’re gonna be ready as a team.”
The Lakers are seemingly still very positive about their outlook, even if they do wind up with the No. 7 seed and are forced to play in the play-in tournament. In a way, it makes perfect sense, as any team with James and Davis leading the way should be confident.
But wins against the Denver Nuggets and Phoenix Suns without James and Schroder in the past week do inspire even more confidence. If healthy, the Lakers should be able to put up a real fight against any team in the Western Conference.
Davis feels James will be fine after watching him work out
The Lakers are patiently awaiting James’ return to the lineup, which is currently slated to happen either Tuesday or Wednesday of this week. Davis said James should be just fine after watching one of his workouts.
“What I’ve seen from LeBron today, he’ll be fine. Trust me. He’ll be fine,” Davis said after the win over the Suns. “He’s been in this game long enough. Obviously, he hasn’t missed a ton of games, but he’s been in this league long enough to be able to come back and lock in and do what he got to do to help the team.”
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