DENVER -- Until the playoffs were out of reach last season, there was a belief in NBA circles that the Los Angeles Lakers, with all their flaws, might be a dangerous team if they made the postseason.
Who wants to face LeBron James in the playoffs?
That question has its roots in history. James, after all, had been to the Finals in the previous eight seasons. His Cleveland Cavaliers teams from 2014-18 weren't always the top-seeded team heading into the playoffs, but they were always the last Eastern Conference team standing. The same was true for the Miami Heat teams on which he played from 2010-14.
It calls into question the power or importance of home-court advantage, and it could be why James says he doesn't think too much about it.
"We don't talk about it," James said. "... At the end of the day I think every Western Conference team that will make the playoffs can win on someone else's floor. For us we would love to play in front of our home fans as much as we can. We love being there with our Laker faithful. But at the end of the day you go out and play each and every game like it's its own game."
The Lakers have been the top team in the Western Conference for nearly the entire season. They have a four-game lead over second-place Denver as they head into the All-Star break. For a time, they had the best record in the NBA -- but that now belongs to the Milwaukee Bucks. The standings were something coach Frank Vogel addressed with his team before Wednesday's game against the Nuggets, but what it meant in the scheme of the season was less the point.
"It's important, but it's not everything," Vogel said before the game. "We believe we can win on the road in the playoffs, so seeding is not everything."
This season's Lakers are a collection of players who spent most of their careers elsewhere. Sometimes they still marvel at what how many Lakers fans they'll see at road games.
It's why the question of home-court advantage seems like it might be less critical for the Lakers than for other teams.
Unless it's different in the playoffs.