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Lakers Get Ready to Go

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131-92.

Every Lakers fan knows that score – it’s etched into their memory. It’s the embarrassment that the Lakers left the public with, not even bothering to make a game of it in the Game Six of the NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics.

But that was then.

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Tonight the Lakers start their 2008-2009 campaign and look to grab the hardware that eluded them in June, the Larry O’Brien Trophy.

The talk during the preseason was that front line none have ever seen. The triple towers of Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom and the now-healthy Andrew Bynum. Well those triple towers have now been downgraded to double towers with Odom coming off the bench.

It was quite shaky in those first preseason games with Bynum and Gasol learning how to play with each other. But over the last several games, Bynum has really impressed and has given the Lakers a harder edge. However it remains to be seen if Bynum can complete a season for the very first time in his life.

Meanwhile the breakout player far and away during the preseason has been Jordon Farmar. Seen as being more effort than talent, he has trained hard in the offseason and has been going to the basket stronger than ever. If he continues anchoring the scoring of the second team along with Sasha Vujacic, this Lakers team will be unstoppable en route to that glory land.

But the Lakers will have to face some stiff competition in the West. While last season saw the resurgence of the New Orleans Hornets, many teams stand in the wings like scavengers to grab the top spot at the first sign of weakness. The Portland Trail Blazers will finally have Greg Oden to anchor the interior and look to build on their late season surge that saw them look absolutely scary during the waning weeks of the season.

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While the San Antonio Spurs are aging, they show no signs of going away any time soon especially given the made it to the Western Conference Finals. I'm not going to dismiss them as long as old chap-ass Greg Popovich is at the helm there.

While most teams in the West will be tough, let's just dismiss several teams right away: Denver Nuggets, Oklahoma-sexuals Oklahoma City Thunder, Minnesota Timberwolves, Memphis Grizzlies and Golden State Warriors. All of those teams have severe deficiencies that unless they fall upon a streak of luck will leave them looking forward to the draft.

But every other team will be right there in the end. Here's how the West will be won.

1. New Orleans Hornets
2. Los Angeles Lakers
3. Utah Jazz
4. Houston Rockets
5. Portland Trail Blazers
6. San Antonio Spurs
7. Phoenix Suns
8. Sacramento Kings
The Hornets will defeat the Kings in five games; the Lakers will defeat the Suns in four; the Jazz will defeat the Spurs in seven; the Trail Blazers will defeat the Rockets in six.

In the second round, the Hornets will defeat the Blazers in six and the Lakers will defeat the Jazz in six.

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In the Western Conference Finals, the Lakers will defeat the Hornets in six.

As for the finals, consider the Kool-Aid sipped. I'm picking the Lakers to avenge their loss in last season's finals. The Lakers will defeat the Boston Celtics in seven games.

But a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. And that first step will pit the Lakers against the Trail Blazers. It will be very interesting to see what happens in the game.

(notice I didn't mention the name of a certain Lakers player)

AP Photo by Francis Specker