Lakers Win The Inaugural In-Season Tournament | Which Is Why They Won’t Win The NBA Finals

The Los Angeles Lakers added another championship to their storied history as they took home the NBA Cup in the inaugural In-Season Tournament. Anthony Davis, LeBron James and the rest of the Lakers were dominant in their victory over the Indiana Pacers. You could see the blueprint for how the Lakers can be hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy in June, but their victory in the IST suggests they won’t win the NBA Finals.

Lakers Were Excellent All Tournament Long

The Lakers’ size on the perimeter was instrumental in slowing Pacers’ superstar Tyrese Haliburton. He was blitzed and trapped often by 6’8″ Jarred Vanderbilt, 6’7″ Cam Reddish, and 6’10” Davis. The hardest thing to do in the NBA is execute over length. A player’s vision is cut off and their time to execute is minimal.

Davis in particular was a monster defensively on the boards, protecting the rim, and getting out to shooters making multiple efforts.

“I think AD, he was at Level 1 and took it to Level 3,” Christian Wood told ESPN after the game. “He told me before the game, ‘This is Game 7 for me, I’m going to show you what a Game 7 is like.’ I’ve never been in one before. I said, ‘All right, show me.’ And he went out there and he got 40 and 20. That’s incredible.”

The IST, unlike the totality of an NBA playoffs, is like having three game 7 instances. Once you advance past the group stage, it is single elimination. Unlike the playoffs there is no best-of-seven and game-to-game adjustments. This format benefitted a team like the Lakers as their lack of shooting was inconsequential because in any one game their defense can carry them.

The format also benefitted the Pacers, who play at a frenetic pace that is not easy to simulate and in any one game can cause problems for an opponent.

The Lakers are won of the NBA championship favorites; to win that they will have to beat very good to elite teams four times out of seven. They will not face a team like the Pacers, a team that while it sports the league’s best offense, it also has the league’s worst defense.

The IST Is Not The NBA Playoffs

The NBA regular season is a marathon and the playoffs are like 10 mile race. Not as arduous as a marathon but not a sprint either. When you rely on older and/or inconsistent players like the Lakers do you cannot expect the type of effort we saw in the IST championship in every game.

Davis played 41 minutes and was a monster with 41 points, 20 rebounds, five assists and four blocks, and was a +13. He manhandled the entire Pacers front court. In any one game you could expect that. In a best-of-seven series, how many times could you expect that?

In last year’s Western Conference finals, where Davis had one 40 point, 10 rebound game, he played fine the entire series and averaged 26 points and 14 rebounds a game, the Lakers were swept.

The Lakers are a good team and should be praised for winning the IST — a masterful performance by the entire team. But the single elimination format can mask deficiencies. Don’t get it twisted; it was high-level competition.

But in a best-of-seven series played out over the course of 10-12 days, all of your weaknesses are exposed and the Lakers are a poor three-point shooting team that relies on an aging superstar in LeBron and an inconsistent one in Davis. Not a recipe for success in that format.

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