EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — The Los Angeles Lakers take on the Utah Jazz Monday in a rematch of their 127-115 overtime victory Saturday at Staples Center. Here are three things to consider:
1. There is some good, big-picture news on the horizon for the Lakers. Their schedule eases up dramatically after Monday.
LA had one of the hardest schedules remaining after the All-Star break, but the team has played a lot of tough teams since then, leaving some easier match-ups around the corner. They currently have the 10th-hardest schedule, and even that will improve after facing the Jazz, who hold the NBA’s best record.
Bottom line: The Lakers look very good as far as staying among the top six teams in the Western Conference and avoiding the dreaded play-in tournament.
2. Anthony Davis might return this week, possibly as early as Thursday against Dallas.
Davis hasn’t played since Feb. 14 because of calf and Achilles’ tendon soreness, and he needs a day or two of practice before returning to a game. He could very well get it over the next few days.
After Monday's game, the Lakers experience a rarity this season — two days off to potentially practice before their next game, giving Davis time to readjust to game speed.
If Davis is not back Thursday, that means Saturday’s rematch with Dallas could be his return date. He won’t get a ton of playing time in his first two games — roughly 15 minutes each game, Frank Vogel said. But having him back obviously means a lot to the Lakers.
LA, by the way, is 14-15 since Davis was sidelined but could pull to .500 Monday — which would be impressive.
3. Dennis Schröder is generally known as a scoring point guard but now deserves credit for also passing the ball.
Schröder is currently tied for sixth in the NBA for assists this month, averaging 7.8 a game. This puts him ahead of players such as Kyrie Irving, Ja Morant and De’Aaron Fox.
Schröder had averaged only five assists per game before April, so why the sudden change? The short answer — he had no choice. He had to become more of a passer.
The Lakers have been so short-handed this month that Schröder was counted on more often to run their offense. He has also found nice chemistry with Andre Drummond, having set up the Lakers’ big man plenty of times.
Give Schröder bonus points for his low turnover rate as well. He historically tends to turn over the ball more often when his assists are on the rise, but that hasn’t been the case in April. In fact, he has a mere three turnovers in his last three games — a span of 103 minutes for him.