LeBron touts Steph for MVP ahead of play-in tilt
2: 00 AM ET
Dave McMenaminESPN Workers Writer
- Lakers and NBA reporter for ESPN.
- Covered the Lakers and NBA for ESPNLosAngeles.com from 2009-14, the Cavaliers from 2014-18 for ESPN.com and the NBA for NBA.com from 2005-09.
The Los Angeles Lakers' repeat title expose will open with LeBron James going via a familiar foe within the Golden Disclose Warriors all the diagram in which via the play-in tournament, led by James' gain for MVP, Stephen Curry.
"I point out, appropriate examine what he's done this 12 months," James said after L.A.'s 110-98 purchase on the Recent Orleans Pelicans, coupled with a Denver Nuggets loss on Sunday, locked the Lakers into the No. 7 discipline. "I don't know the rest whenever you are having a seek for an MVP. If Steph is no longer on Golden Disclose's crew, what are we having a examine?
"We obtain caught up within the records most incessantly. We obtain caught up within the, OK, who has the most easy file, in favor to appropriate announcing who had the most easy season that 12 months. And Steph has had, personally, the most easy season all 12 months."
Curry averaged a profession-most productive 31.8 facets per sport and clinched the 2nd league scoring title of his profession Sunday, joining Michael Jordan because the solely players in NBA history to purchase a scoring title at age 33 or older.
Curry, 33, also joined Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar because the solely players with a pair of scoring titles, MVPs and championships.
The destiny of the Lakers' postseason seeding will advance all of the diagram in which down to Curry and the No. 8 Warriors coming to Staples Center on Wednesday (10 p.m. ET, ESPN), with a first-spherical berth in opposition to the No. 2 Phoenix Suns on the road.
The loser will hotfoot on to face the winner of the No. 9 Memphis Grizzlies and No. 10 San Antonio Spurs' play-in sport, with the winner of that contest incomes the No. 8 seed and a first-spherical date with the No. 1 Utah Jazz.
While L.A. carried out the regular season on a five-sport winning run -- with James averaging 24.5 facets on 50% shooting, 7 assists, 4 rebounds and 1.5 steals in his past two games, after he missed 26 of the Lakers' outdated 28 games with a high piquant ankle sprain -- James' groups had by no diagram entered the playoffs seeded decrease than No. 4 in his outdated 14 appearances.
"I don't examine our seeding. It does now not topic. Obviously, we know we wished to play powerful better this season, but the injuries took a toll on our crew," James said, alluding to his ankle woes and Anthony Davis' 9-week absence thanks to a calf strain and Achilles tendinosis in his piquant leg. "However I live up for the problem. It be one more bid for me within the postseason. I'm having a anticipate it."
If L.A. is to repeat as champion -- incomes James his fifth ring and the franchise its 18th to pass the Boston Celtics for the most all time -- this could maybe maybe perhaps favor to pull off something out of the ordinary. The 1995 Houston Rockets were the bottom-seeded crew in league history to purchase all of it, coming into the postseason within the No. 6 discipline.
"It will likely be the hardest bid any crew has ever had in NBA history," Lakers reserve Jared Dudley said when requested about the path ahead. "We're up for it. We're the defending champs. They've bought to alarm about us. We're getting wholesome on the piquant time, and no one desires to scrutinize a wholesome Laker crew."
Dudley, when requested, questioned the capacity of the LA Clippers, who could maybe perhaps private faced the Lakers in a first-spherical collection if the Clippers carried out No. 3 and the Lakers ended up No. 6; but the Clippers shunned that bid by resting their stars and shedding their final two games to cellar dwellers in Houston and Oklahoma Metropolis to total up because the No. 4 seed.
"If I modified into one more crew, I'd are looking to play us early," Dudley said. "I'd are looking to play when LeBron James is coming off of an ankle damage. We're seeking to search out our chemistry. You're thinking that that we'll be better later or better now? I point out, the more chemistry and the more games, the stronger we obtain."
Indeed, the Lakers seemed mighty ripe for a doable early playoff exit when James stepped on the foot of the Pelicans' Nickeil Alexander-Walker within the fourth quarter on Sunday and tweaked his ankle.
Lakers coach Frank Vogel said James would private "no disorders" from the tweak. "I am going to be ravishing," James added.
Davis, who sat out a sport earlier within the week with tightness in his groin and modified into a sport-time resolution on Sunday thanks to shoulder discomfort, also sounded optimistic about his health and that of the crew.
"We feel fair appropriate," Davis said. "We feel assured about our crew."
That wasn't the case appropriate 14 days ago, when L.A. modified into overwhelmed by an undermanned Toronto Raptors crew to lose for the sixth time in seven games.
"Coach told us after that sport, he said, 'Private together. Comely imagine the set we'll be in two weeks,'" Davis said. "And it be been two weeks to the day. So, we're a magnificent better crew. We're a magnificent more healthy crew, which is most well-known. We're discovering our rhythm on both ends of the ground."
Vogel said he by no diagram felt admire things were "unraveling," even with the gradual-season swoon.
"The message modified into: 'Remain together; let's no longer any person overreact,'" Vogel said. "Nobody's at ease that we've misplaced these games, but we'll be OK if we end the route, support grinding, support having a development mindset on a regular foundation."
In about a days, the Lakers will obtain their first take a look at in a postseason that will require 17 wins to reach the Larry O'Brien Trophy -- one higher than any outdated champion has ever needed to assemble.
"We is no longer going to call this [season] a success until we lift a banner, but we're in narrate to enact something special it be no longer relevant what seed we're in," Davis said. "It be solely a success if we'll purchase all of it."