“We’re not a team constructed of great shooting. It’s not like we’re sitting here with a lot of lasers on our team,” LeBron James said at the start at the 2022/23 campaign back in October.
The Los Angeles squad began the season 2-10, and now they’re only eight victories away from conquering another NBA championship. And while at it, they’ve eliminated the Warriors who’d beaten them in the first game of the season.
The Lakers Have Completed One Of The Greatest In-Season Turnaround In NBA History, After Defeating The Warriors To Advance To The Western Conference Finals.🏀 pic.twitter.com/gu4A8CuwXo
— Poetik Flakko (@FlakkoPoetik) May 13, 2023
“We’re trying to win every hand,” the Lakers star said this time around, as they’ve become the first NBA team in league history to qualify as the 8th seed for postseason, and end up as part of the final four teams of the year.
“We already know that monster in the Rocky Mountains is waiting on us, but can we just enjoy this one first?” Darvin Ham joked about it, as he considers it to be fundamental to appreciate the process.
The purple and gold were also the first franchise in 18 years to begin a tournament 2-10 and still finish above .500 for the campaign, and only the second to reach the conference’s finals after their first 12-game record. The last to achieve this were the Seattle Supersonics back in 1978.
“It’s been a challenging year, to say the least, but we kept powering through,” rookie head coach Darvin Ham admitted. “Our vibes stayed positive, and finally our new pieces came together. I’m just so excited I get to sit in this seat and enjoy the ride.”
Ever since the Los Angeles team traded off veteran star Russell Westbrook, and dealt in crucial first-team players like D’Angelo Russell, the Lakers are now 27-13.
Lakers become first Western Conference team to eliminate Warriors since 2014
The purple and gold’s stars appeared when they were needed the most, as James dropped 30 points, won 9 rebounds and handed out 9 assists as they ended the Golden State’s ambition to win the NBA championship for a second time in a row.
Davis was also crucial, hitting 17 points and 20 rebounds for his squad in Game 6. However, new stars like Austin Reaves arose in the second-half of the year, as he also contributed 23 points this weekend.
“It’s special to get that win to beat a team that’s so established and so good,” Reaves assured. “I think the seeding things are just numbers. When you have guys like Bron and AD who have won championships, you always feel like you have a chance, especially with the roster that we have, the talent that we have.”
The Lakers have also become the first team since 2014 to eliminate the Warriors from the playoffs before reaching the NBA Finals, as the Bay Area squad have participated in six of the last eight, but completely missing the playoffs in two other seasons.
“The better team won, and I can’t fault our players for the effort,” Golden State coach Steve Kerr expressed. “Because these guys are such competitors, it’s going to hurt. But that’s why we play: To compete against the best and see what we’ve got. Didn’t quite have enough, but it wasn’t for a lack of heart or effort.”