Los Angeles Lakers head coach Mike D’Antoni made headlines after his team failed to show up for four quarters against a young, struggling Washington Wizards team.
When he spoke with the Los Angeles Daily news, however, he changed his tone so much so, that he went as far as to talk about L.A.’s chances to compete for a title once they make the postseason.
“I’m just happy to get into the playoffs. I don’t care what (seed) it is,” D’Antoni said on Sunday. “If we play to our max (potential), I’m not afraid of anybody.”
Kobe Bryant made headlines by telling reporters the Lakers would make the playoffs when prompted back in February, and of course the land of basketball hyperbole took those words and ran with them. But the latest statement from D’Antoni suggests that the Lakers really do have a shot amongst the league’s elite. Their inability to close out and win games against lesser teams when they absolutely need them suggests otherwise.
The Lakers are just 5-15 against teams that are currently playoff-bound in the Western Conference. What’s worse, is they are just 2-8 against the San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder and Denver Nuggets — all teams they would likely face in the first round should they sneak in.
D’Antoni’s confidence is good to see for the purple-and-gold faithful, but whether or not it meets with reality remains to be seen.
The Lakers will face a tough test against the Golden State Warriors on Monday at Oracle Arena. At 2-0 against Golden State this season, they are the only playoff team the Lakers have a winning record against.
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