Will the Real Lakers Please Step Forward?
Let me present you with a multiple choice question:
How does one write about the Lakers without sounding ___.
a. Like Chicken Little panicking about the end of civilization as we know it.
b. Like an oblivious douchebag.
The Lakers have not looked like a championship caliber team for quite some time aside from brief spurts. They crushed the San Antonio Spurs on the start of their previous five-game road trip a couple of weeks ago, but that was an aberration as we saw with how the rest of the trip unfolded.
While last season these swoons were just written off by Kobe Bryant, Derek Fisher and head coach Phil Jackson, this season there seems to be more uneasiness. Kobe is punching chairs and cussing out his teammates. Fish is saying things like, “Guys are genuinely concerned.” And Phil has said that the way the bench plays “makes me want to throw up sometimes.”
Despite this apprehension it’s hard to get a read on this team. With the exception of the Ron Artest-Trevor Ariza switch which was supposed to help fortify their defense this is the same team that won the NBA title last season. This team knows what it takes to win, yet lately they are showing all of their flaws for all to see.
Add to this mix Andrew Bynum being out of commission with a strained Achilles’ tendon and will likely not return until the playoffs. Since this put Lamar Odom the anchor of the bench in the starting five, it’s really deceiving to judge the bench’s poor play as of late.
So the dilemma is in how to judge the way this team is playing now and what this means for them in the playoffs.
With the Lakers assured of a top seed in the Western Conference with one more win, it would seem they would have an easy go of it in the first round. But with every Western Conference playoff team likely to have at least 50 wins, nothing is going to be easy.
The Lakers could face the Oklahoma City Thunder and pray to contain Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. They could face the Portland Trail Blazers and deal with their abysmal record in the Rose Garden which they just broke this season (sans Kobe.) They could face the San Antonio Spurs who have been through this dance continually for over a decade.
So as we sit here a couple of weeks before the start of the playoffs with a whole bunch of uncertainty in the air. And to be frank I don’t really care. I’m sure they’ll get it together since this is familiar territory for them. They have what it takes to win it all again, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if they got upset in the first round.
Just nudge me when they start their first game, and I’ll start paying attention. However that will be hard with the Kings in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Oh the dilemmas of sports writing.