Lakers' Dennis Schroder: 'I'll Put My Money on Us' If We're Healthy for Playoffs

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVApril 23, 2021

Los Angeles Lakers' Dennis Schroder handles the ball during an NBA basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks in Dallas, Thursday, April 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez

Los Angeles Lakers point guard Dennis Schroder said Thursday he's still confident in the team's championship potential if the roster is back to full strength in time for the playoffs.

The Lakers have dropped to fifth in the Western Conference with a 35-24 record while superstars LeBron James, who last played March 20, and Anthony Davis, who returned Thursday after being out for nine weeks, were sidelined by injuries.

"I mean, first off, it don't matter where we end up at," Schroder told reporters. "... I think for me personally, if everybody is there in a seven-game series, I'll put my money on us."

Getting Davis back on the court is a step in the right direction, but ESPN's Dave McMenamin reported Monday that James is still "weeks away" from a return to game action. There's less than a month left in the regular season.

In a normal year, the Lakers would probably aim toward getting LeBron back for the opening game of the playoffs to avoid a potential setback in the final games of the regular season. They may not have that luxury this time around since only the top six seeds are guaranteed a playoff berth.

Teams seeded Nos. 7-10 will take part in a play-in tournament to determine the final two qualifiers.

Los Angeles is currently 2.5 games ahead of the seventh-seeded Dallas Mavericks (32-26). The Portland Trail Blazers (32-26) are sixth with an identical record to the Mavs.

If Davis' return can help spark a resurgence for the Lakers, it'll reduce the level of urgency on James. If they're still on the play-in fringe heading into the final week or two, the four-time MVP's availability will become crucial to avoiding the extra game(s).

In the big picture, Schroder's comments are accurate. Put the defending champions in a seven-game series at full strength with James and Davis logging big minutes and they may still be favorite over any opponent in the postseason.

L.A. is back in action Saturday night for a second straight key road game in Dallas after losing to the Mavs 115-110.