The Los Angeles Lakers had high hopes for the future when they acquired LeBron James back in 2018. The team won a championship in 2020 which has validated the team’s current efforts in their roster building, but their title window is closed after this season if they don’t at least advance deep into the playoffs, says Stephen A. Smith.
Smith: Los Angeles Lakers Championship Window Is Closing
"If the Los Angeles Lakers lose this game … the LeBron James' championship era in LA comes to an end."
😳 @stephenasmith pic.twitter.com/ZAtt4Cuvwe
— First Take (@FirstTake) April 28, 2023
On ESPN’s First Take on Friday morning, the crew was previewing the games for the evening, including the Game 6 matchup between the Grizzlies and the Lakers. Los Angeles leads the series 3-2, and has a chance to put Memphis away by securing the series victory on their home floor tonight. They missed a chance at elimination in their last game, and got blown out by the Grizzlies.
The Lakers are 4.5 point favorites for tonight’s contest, and it is in their best interest to secure the victory now, not only for the short-term, but for the long-term picture as well.
Game day pic.twitter.com/dSk5LFbsZ3
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) April 28, 2023
When Smith was asked if Game 6 is a must-win for Los Angeles, he went off on a tangent about how it is now or never for the Lakers. He points out that the overall age of the team is relatively young, but that their leaders are on the wrong side of the age hump. He says that age and father time is starting to creep up on LeBron, and that was a reason for his poor performance in Game 5.
“Even though you’ve got an average age of about 26 or 27 on this squad, you’re led by two dudes. One is old, and the other looks old half the time.”
Smith is right that no one is getting any younger. There are some hot and upcoming teams in the Western Conference like the Grizzlies, Suns, and Kings, and the mainstays like the Warriors and Nuggets are still strong opponents. Another year of mileage on the legs of James and Anthony Davis will only make them that much slower, as the passing years will start to be a factor for both players.
The Lakers made some serious improvements to their roster around the trade deadline, and they have a stronger team for this postseason run than they had in the past couple of years. Their odds of winning the Western Conference currently sit at +500.
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