With Dwight Howard opting to play elsewhere for the 2013-14 NBA season and with Kobe Bryant’s return date still in question, there weren’t a lot of people excited about the chances of the Los Angeles Lakers this season After all, this is a team whose big off-season acquisitions consisted of Nick Young and Chris Kaman.
However, the Lakers have been decent for the start of this year. Make no mistake, they are nowhere near the elite level that they once were, but as they head into their home court at the Staples Center on Sunday night to take on the Sacramento Kings, this Lakers team will have the opportunity to get their record to .500.
Having a 7-7 record might seem like a short-sighted and low-level task for a team with the legacy and history of the Lakers, but this team is not of that same mold. Particularly with Kobe still on the sideline at this point, playing .500 basketball has to be viewed as a positive for this team.
In terms of their matchup on Sunday, this game could turn into an offensive shootout. Both teams rank in the bottom half of the league in terms of points allowed per 100 possessions with the Kings playing 2.3 points per 100 possessions worse on that end of the floor. However, the Kings have also had the better and more consistent offense this season, scoring 101 points per 100 possessions as opposed to the Lakers’ average of 98.9 points per 100 possessions.
Even with what seems to be a matchup that more or less balances out, I think the Lakers have the advantage on Sunday solely because of where this game is being played. Five of the Lakers’ six wins already this season have come at home while they have just one road win. Their play on their home floor has been noticeably better with their defense allowing 9.1 fewer points per 100 possessions at home than on the road and their offense scoring 8.3 more points per 100 possessions at home.
Playing a team like the Kings, a franchise and squad still looking to hit any kind of rhythm, the Lakers’ play at the Staples Center should prove to be L.A.’s biggest advantage. Not only should the Lakers give their fans something to cheer tonight at home, but they should also be able to get away from a losing record for now.