In 2009-2010, the Lakers played a total of 20 sets of back-to-back games. In those 40 games, the Lakers managed 25 wins and 15 losses. In the first game of the back-to-back contests, the Lakers posted a record of 12-8. In the second leg of the back-to-backs, the Lakers finished 13-7. Of the 40 total games, only eight were played at Staples Center, and 32 were played on the road. While a 25-15 record in back-to-back games is nothing to sneeze at, if they had played a little better in back-to-back games, (I know, I know, I am getting picky here) they could have held home court advantage against the entire Eastern Conference. Remember, the Lakers finished with the third best overall record in the league last year, behind Cleveland, and Orlando. Many people believed the Lakers would be facing one of these squads if they made the finals. Well, Boston decided to crash the party, and fortunately the Lakers had home court advantage and got to play game seven at Staples Center. Had they played Orlando or Cleveland they would not have had that privilege. The schedule makers had a little mercy this season on the back-to-back, defending champs. For the 2010-2011 season, the Lakers play a total of 15 sets of back-to-backs, which is the lowest in the NBA. How the Lakers fare this season in their back-to-back games will play a big role in them clinching the league’s best overall record. Below, I analyze and predict the Lakers’ fate in their 15 sets of back-to-backs for the 2010-2011 season.
November 2-3, Memphis, @ Sacramento- Even though Kobe may not quite be 100 percent from his knee surgery, and Bynum is projected to be out until later in the month, the Lakers should not lose these two games to two perennial lottery bound teams. I look for the Lakers to have a very strong start to the season, trying to keep pace with the Heat. Final verdict: 2-0
November 16-17 @ Milwaukee, @ Detroit- These are the first back-to-back road games of the season. Milwaukee will not be an easy victory. They are a good young team, and this is the only time the Lakers will travel to Milwaukee all year so there will be a playoff atmosphere for the game. I say the Lakers beat Milwaukee in double overtime and handle the Pistons the following night. Final Verdict 2-0
November 30-December 1 @ Memphis, @ Houston- The Lakers will beat Memphis in the Gasol bowl. However, the Lakers will lose a nail biter the next night to Houston for their second loss of the season. Their first loss will come November 26th at Utah. Final Verdict 1-1
December 7-8 vs Washington, @ Clippers- Technically this is really back-to-back home games. Considering the Lakers won’t have to travel to play the Clips. On paper, this is the easiest back-to-back the Lakers play this season. I also predict the December 8th Clippers game will mark the return of Andrew Bynum. Final Verdict 2-0
December 14-15 @ Washington, @ Indiana- Back-to-back road games are always tough, no matter whom the competition is. However, it will still be early enough in the season where the Lakers wont get complacent and have a let down against either of these bad squads. Final Verdict 2-0
December 28-29 @ San Antonio, @ New Orleans- These are the first two games after the epic Christmas Day showdown with Miami. Presumably, the Lakers will be on an emotional high after beating the Heat. I say they take care of business in both games, riding the momentum from the Miami game. Final Verdict 2-0
January 4-5 Detroit, @ Phoenix- The Lakers will beat Detroit in a wire to wire victory. The next night they will beat Phoenix in comeback fashion. The Lakers will trail by 12 heading into the fourth. Final Verdict 2-0
January 11-12 Cleveland, @ Golden State- All NBA fans will be gearing up for the Kobe vs Lebron match up… Oh wait, he took his talents to South Beach. Anyways, the Lakers take care of business against two bottom dwellers. Final Verdict 2-0
January 16-17 @ Clippers, Oklahoma City- Of the four games the Lakers play against the Clippers every year, one of them is usually very competitive (sometimes the Clips even win) this will be the one. The Lakers win by two points. The next night the Lakers will play the struggling Thunder. That’s right, I said struggling. I don’t think the Thunder are going to have it as easy as last year, but they will still sneak in as the 8th seed. None the less, Lakers take both games. Final Verdict 2-0
February 10-11 @Boston, @ New York- The Lakers have 3 very difficult back-to-backs in the month of February. This is the first of the three. The Lakers will win an epic showdown against the Celtics in a finals rematch. However, the next night the Knicks, who will be in the playoff picture for the first time in years, will come out blazing and beat the Lakers in their only trip to the Garden. Kobe will notch 47 in the loss. Final Verdict 1-1
February 13-14 @ Orlando, @ Charlotte- The Lakers have to be careful with these two games. The Lakers lost to both of these teams on the road last year. Charlotte flat out owns the Lakers when they play in North Carolina. Orlando is a top 3-4 team in the league. I say Lakers beat Orlando, and their woes against those pesky Bobcats will continue. Final Verdict 1-1
February 22-23 Atlanta, @ Portland- Atlanta has notoriously struggled at the Staples Center. It won’t be easy, but the Lakers will eek out the win. On the contrary, the Lakers have had tons of trouble in Portland. This will be the Lakers first visit to Rip City all year. Blazer fans will smell blood and steal one from the champs.
Final Verdict 1-1
Mar 31-Apr 1 Dallas, @ Utah- Possibly the only set of back-to-back games where the Lakers will be facing two teams who will finish with 50 wins. Besides the back-to-back road games against Orlando and Charlotte, I believe this is the toughest back-to-back of the year. Kobe and company will take care of Dirk and the Mavs. The second game of a back-to-back in Utah will not be easy. The Jazz are extremely good at home, and the Lakers will be tired from the Dallas game the night before. Final Verdict 1-1
April 5-6 Utah, @ Golden State- The Lakers will be gearing up for the postseason and be in a heated contest with Miami for the league’s best record. They take both of these games convincingly. Final Verdict 2-0
April 12-13 San Antonio, @ Sacramento – These two games present the same scenario as the ones played on the 5th and 6th of April. The Lakers will be gearing up for the playoffs, and the league’s best record. Unless they have the latter wrapped up, and are resting players, they will be playing their hearts out these games. Final Verdict 2-0
In light of the predictions above, the Lakers will go 25-5 in their 30 back-to-back games. The back-to-back game situation is something to keep an eye on this season. While the Lakers don’t have as grueling slate as they did last year, the competition has gotten stiffer (think South Beach). If the Lakers take care of business in these 30 games, they have a strong chance of going into the postseason with the league’s best overall record.