Best In The West

Kurt —  April 15, 2008

It was the first step in a long march through the playoffs, but the Lakers are now the Western Conference champions. That is something worth celebrating, particularly this year when you think about how we felt about the squad back in October, when you think about just how deep the West is this year.

We should soak it in and think about how beautiful the extra pass is and how often these Lakers make it, how perfectly Gasol fits in the triangle offense, how Odom has blossomed, how Kobe grew to trust once he had had teammates worth trusting. It was a season to remember.

For one day we should sit back and enjoy. We’ll start breaking down the first round (likely to start Sunday, you know they want the Lakers on the biggest stage) tomorrow. The only question left is who to root for today? I think we root for Dallas and Memphis (behind a career game from Javaris Crittenton) because I’d rather face Denver instead of Dallas.

Kurt

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94 responses to Best In The West

  1. Doesn’t the title of “Western Conference Champions” go to the team that comes out of the West playoffs?

    And I’m rooting for Dallas and Memphis as well. Dallas has a better chance in a series than Denver because they are actually disciplined on defense and know what the word “team” means.

    What a wonderful season it has been for the purple & gold.

  2. I like Denver too. A team that runs is the ideal team for us. Lets reserve the conservative ones in the WCF. Let Phoenix and SA slug it out and have Dallas make a bid for an “upset” against NOH. Its good for the league..

    herta – i think the title is right. The winners of the WCF are called WCF champs. Its like NBA MVP and NBA FINALS MVP. Totally diff titles. Ironic how those 2 awards will be won by the same man this year.. Hmmm ;)

  3. Warren, thanks for clearing that up. All this wackiness has got my head spinning.

    I think this might be interesting to know, I was surfing the Hornets blog, and there was mention of writers boycotting the MVP award and something about 15 writers agreeing not to vote for it. My first thought was: They wouldn’t have done that if LeBron or somebody else was the frontrunner.

  4. With N.O. clinching #2, is there any incentive for their starters to log big minutes or play the entire game against Dallas? Nope. Even if they were to lose, they’d still have home-court over teams #3-#8.

    I guess the call is up to Byron Scott. Does the risk of injury outweigh the reward of carrying momentum into the playoffs?

    Personally, I’m more interested in seeds #3-6. I hope Utah and Houston end up the #4-#5. For that to happen, the Spurs have to beat the Jazz, and the Rockets beat the Clippers.

  5. This Little Pinky April 16, 2008 at 1:32 am

    FINALLY, I’ve been saying that the Lakers will win 50 plus games and win the West for about four years now, I’m damn near prophetic this year!

    I’m still a little concerned about Fisher’s ability to stay in front of speedsters, he was getting torched by Udrih, who would get by him, and hit that 12 foot jumper nicely.

    Luke has got to be the person who benefitted the least from the Kwame Brown trade. It seems like the fans’ ire is unproportionately directed at him. You can hear the groans when he receives the ball. Of course, they cheer if he scores or makes a nice pass.

    I think that Dallas has less of a chance of winning against the Lakers than the Nuggets do.

    Let’s pray to the Basketball Gods that the Lakers remain healthy, one more injury to any of the players in the rotation could really throw a wrench into the whole system.

  6. I think the 3-0 season series against Denver says it all.

    With Denver even more rattled now, due to Melo’s little incident, hopefully we won’t have too much trouble with the Nuggets and we’ll get some rest time before the second round.

  7. Wow, what a season. You know I’ve only been following the Laker’s for…this is my third season and whilst I always hoped one day they’d be in a position like this I never actually thought it’d happen as recently as well… Jan 13 when Bynum went down. Even then I’m a realist and I didn’t really believe that Odom, Bynum and Kobe would lead us anywhere other than a placing better than the two 7th seed’s I’ve seen the laker’s achieve. Then Bynum went down and well, I figured we’d make 7th or 8th seed again, a first round exit sort of try again next season viewpoint because we sure as hell weren’t going to be making any big trades anytime soon because we never do.

    Welp time passes, we play pretty damn well with Bynum out and just as I’m thinking it can’t last forever, just a day before my birthday as I was getting out of my face on champagne in a parentally vacated house with a week’s holiday off work, I check a Laker’s Recap and I’m skim reading it like “blah blah Bryant shot well from the floor…blah blah…Odom added 13 rebounds and 10 points…blah blah…The team seemed uplifted at the news of the acquisition of Pau Gasol earlier today… blah bl…wait, WHAT?!” A frantic click back to the main page and there’s the best news I heard for a long time, perhaps the most lopsided trade of all time and it’s in our favor.

    From then I knew this year was going to be a different one, but to win the West in what’s is the most stacked race imaginable, without Bynum and facing plenty of little tests along the way, well today I’m more proud than usual to be a Laker fan. To be honest I didn’t think we’d pull out the wins against all of the last three, but god knows I love to be proven wrong by this squad.

    Not only that but how amazing are the playoffs going to be this year? Not just for the Lakers, Not after the first round I mean the whole damn thing?! Besides a couple of match ups in the east nobody really will care about there isn’t a series I wouldn’t watch whatever way the seedings fall. SA vs Suns first round being a great example, then the further we’ll get into them the more intense it’s going to get on both sides. It helps also that my team is likely to be in the thick of it.

    This is what basketball is all about, it just took me three years of fandom to see it happen.

  8. Warren Wee Lim April 16, 2008 at 4:49 am

    I don’t think Melo’s incident counts for something, Denver has been consistently inconsistent but only playing better as of late. Funny how we were pegged to be no-margin-for-errors during the pre-season and now we meet.

    Not to be cocky or anything but I would expect us to take care of business early. A 5-gm series is what I am looking at possibly 4. Our guys are having fun and they mean business. Not too good on Denver’s radar.

    Both teams are on a roll but we have the league-changing momentum. I bet no one would’ve foreseen this but the 2nd round looks bright. Depending on the seedings and all, expecting the WCF won’t be pipe dreaming this time.

  9. What a great regular season. I love that once the season started going, it was almost all about basketball, not off the court drama. Phil, Mitch and Dr. Buss deserve just as much credit as anyone, they not only found a way to diffuse the Kobe situation, they managed to improve the team, both by developing the young players, finding roles for the vets, and bringing in Gasol. Now its time to be greedy, go for the glory and try to make it to the finals. Step 1, winning against Dallas or Denver.

  10. Warren Wee Lim April 16, 2008 at 5:18 am

    Step 1 would actually be easier if it was Denver. Again, its all about the defense. While Dallas is a 7th seeder, I rank them higher in terms of threat compared to DEN, HOU and even NOH. If there’s one upset this year, it’d be DAL over NOH.

    My seedings would be:
    1 – San Antonio for being the defchamps
    2 – LA with modesty
    3 – PHX for experience
    4 – UTA for consistency
    5 – DAL for revenge
    6 – NOH for Scott and CP3 and Katrina
    7 – HOU for racking up 23.

  11. whoa. whoa. whoa. Warren. If you’ve ever seen The West Wing, you are “tempting fate” as Toby would say. You’ve know got to go outside and turn around three times and spit…or something to undo it.

  12. #11 As long as you spit towards Phoenix . . . or San Antonio . . . or Dallas. Just spit Southeast.

  13. Whoa, the numbers changed quickly.

    The post from me above references #11 not #6.

    And for #5 (if it stays #5), you are mistaking the fans’ ire for Luke with them saying “Luuuuuke.” It does sound like a groan or a boo but it is our term of endearment for him

  14. I’m not sure if there’s an official title, but as far as “____ Conference Champions” is used in the NBA, it refers to a team who played in the finals.

  15. Congradulations to the Lakers.
    The players had to overcome quite a bit,starting w/their undisputed star pouting to constant injuries and the pressure of an incredible season.
    The coaching staff kept their head and managed to nurture great team chemistry.
    The Organization didn’t succumb to panic early,kept plugging away and were able to turn a decent roster into a potentially great one.
    Most of all,congradulations to the fans. You’ve kept the faith and have been rewarded.
    Stephen

  16. for me, I’m only concerned about Phoenix in the west, I think we’ve shown that we can handle, SA, Utah, Dev, Dal, NO, and the Rockets, well, I like our chances better now, but the Suns… while I know we’ve “handled” them this year in the season-series games, I just don’t want to see them until the WC finals. you know they are going to be highly motivated, (Shaq) and play like it’s the NBA finals, because D’antoni hates PJ, Shaq wants to “Prove” to the world that HE is the reason why his teams have won the trophy in the past. we can do better against the 1 year older Nash, but we have a tough match up with Amare, it would be up to LO. the Suns are about the only team who can match us in size, or best us.
    and they all know this is their last year for a run.
    Shaq is done after this and Nash, while he’s a trooper, is starting to show the years of wear and tear.

  17. nomuskles is right. Don’t tumpt the wrath of whatever from high atop the thing!!!

    Go outside, turn around three times, and spit! And curse! Now!

    http://westwing.bewarne.com/fourth/407electionite.html

  18. 16-I agree. Let San Antonio take them out for us.

    Kurt-I think Laker fans should also be rooting for S.A. and Houston so they remain the 3 and 5 seeds respectivley, leaving Phoenix 6, and stuck facing the defending champs.

  19. yeah, Kwame a, it’s not that I am afriad to meet them you know, but I’d much rather see them, (if we have to) in the Western Finals. now THAT would be a series, can’t you see the media frenzy? talk about a soap opera, and the ratings would be an all time high. the league and the network would love it!

  20. Network Execs Dream Matchups:

    1st Rd: Lakers/Dallas, SA/Pho
    2nd Rd: Boston/Cleveland, Pho/NO
    Conference Finals: Boston/Detroit, Lakers/Phoenix
    Finals: Lakers/Boston

  21. Know what I love about our franchise? We don’t clutter our rafters with “Pacific Division Champion” or even “Western Conference Champion” banners. It’s all or nothing baby. I just laugh at other teams when I see the lesser banners hanging.

    LA-Boston or bust.

  22. This is a great accomplishment for the Lakers. I am glad they proved to themselves that they are the team to beat in the West and whoever they play in the first round I believe will be a challenge but the Lakers will be up to the task.

  23. I am a definate no go on the western conference champs. I would go with western conference regular season champs. I believe that is doable. I remember at the beginning of the season when my buddy and I were talking about how we saw the lakers winning at a .600 clip and how Stephen A. Smith was blasting the Lakers that there was no way they would win 50 games. I was right on til Bynum went down then we got Pau and the rest is winning. This season has gone by fast, I still remember the first game of the season like it was yesterday. I can’t believe I watched 79 games(two were DVR problems the other was dumb friends).

    I don’t care who we play in the first round even though I despise Dallas more than I do the Nuggets. I believe the Nuggets professional pick up game defense suits us a little better, but we should do quick work with both of them.

    take this poll, always fun to vote for our Lakers, and check out the last question.
    http://proxy.espn.go.com/chat/sportsnation/polling?event_id=3443

  24. 20- absolutely, right on, this year could be the best year for the league and playoff ratings, so Stern is a happy camper no doubt.
    for myself, in the past, if the lakes went out in the first round, I sort of half paid attention to the rest of the playoffs, (this year, we should be involved pretty far into them, I hope) but there are some non-Laker match ups that I will tune into…SA v Phx is one of them, just want it to be a brutal 7 game series. (emphasis on Brutal!) but no blood, like Nash’s nose last year, that was hard to watch. (felt like a hollywood slasher film)

  25. I think the Clips would take a “Homecourt in the 1st round of the 2012 Playoffs” Banner at this point..

  26. 25-Two years ago there was a real possibility that the Clips could be where the Lakers are, and the Lakers could be where the Clips are. Glad the natural order has been restored.

    21-Worst banner I have ever seen, the Rockies putting up a NL Wild-Card banner, that was pathetic.

  27. Great job by the Lakers. Hopefully, they play on Sunday with a healthy Ariza and Bynum coming off the bench.

    I really don’t care who we play in the 1st round, Dallas or Denver. Both teams cannot seem to finish games against Western power teams.

    Hopefully we will see Utah in the second round.

  28. I don’t really think it’s a big deal to put up an NL Wild Card banner or a Pacific Division banner. We’re lucky that the Lakers are a storied enough franchise that they can put up Championship banners and only Championship banners, but what’s the big deal about the smaller ones? The Rockies haven’t been around that long. I think it’d be sillier to not put up an NL Wild Card banner.

    (I hope I don’t come off as patronizing)

  29. This link was put in an earlier thread and I saved it because it was so perfect. Sorry I don’t have the correct attribution, but I am sure someone will claim it.

    It is perfect for this thread because we are enjoying the Lakers winning the Western Conference race.

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/dailydime?page=dime-LALPreview0708

    You probably know what I think those 4 letter network sports guys can do with their pens, so I won’t repeat it here.

  30. I love the matchup with the Nuggets. Sasha has a way of irritating the Nuggets to no end and gets in their heads. As long as we control the pace, pound the ball down their throats, and play Spartan worthy defense we’ll be fine.

    The only thing is, if the standings hold, we most likely get the Jazz in the 2nd round. We have played them pretty well this season (3-1) but with their physicality I wonder how their grind you down game will fair against us. I’m especially concerned with the hyperactive Boozer against Pau and Fisher against D-Will.

    Again our stay in the playoffs will be determined by the defense we play. If we get Bynum back to shore up the defense great. If our defense doesn’t improve as a result of unfamiliarity I’ll be worried.

    As of right now we have an excellent chemistry going on offense and defense, everyone knows their roles and we’re playing our best basketball of the season. Let’s keep it rolling.

  31. Make no mistake, the road to the Finals is 20-21 games, against whoever we face… I would be happy if we just won all home games until then…

    About 1st round matchups, both Denver and Dallas looked to be better matchups in a recent past than they look now. Why?

    Dallas lost many close games, which means that you can only get this much “bad luck” until it turns into “good luck”. They are due… I’m not confortable at all against them.

    Denver will be far more focused. Melo will try to prove a point. AI will try to prove he’s still around. Not a good matchup as is…

    If I had to choose? Dallas… Dampier will turn into a beast averaging 15 and 10 for the series, but not enough depth after him at the inside positions.

  32. For the record, I think Utah is better than people think. I might rather face the Suns in round 2 than Utah.

  33. Digging through Kurt’s archives, I have to brag a bit — see my comment left here *last October*. Not perfect, but pretty prescient:

    ***
    You know, I think everyone’s getting a little excited here. Yeah, Kobe’s being a baby, but he’s not going anywhere — Kupchak and Buss are too smart to trade him for what would obviously be an insufficient package. And when he gets on the court, all will be fine.

    In fact, I’ll go way out there and say things are going to be not just fine, but great. This is Kobe’s year, man. M-V-P, after he leads this squad to 50+ games. No wait — make that 55+. Seriously.

    I know, I’m crazy, right? Whatever. More bold predictions: Bynum’s going to be better than anyone expected. So’s Farmar — that kid’s going to be solid. They still need help in the frontcourt — I’m not sure I buy Turiaf as a starting PF just yet — but I’m guessing this is the year Kupchak finally pulls off the big trade.

    Two more predictions: Warriors win the West (Lakers #2) and Miami wins the East. And KG’s going to be a huge bust in Boston. Take it to the bank!

    Comment by dan reines — October 23, 2007 @ 8:18 am
    ***

  34. dan reines, you should have cut off that last paragraph =)

  35. heh. yeah, but when you’re making stuff up, you have to make it a little believable, right?

  36. 57-25 : And so begins the 5th great Lakers dynasty…

    1st Dynasty (1948-1954) :: Mikan – The original big fella
    1948-49, 1949-50, 1951-1952, 1952-53, 1953-54 :: 5-time NBA Champions

    2nd Dynasty (1958-1973) :: Baylor, West, Chamberlain – If it weren’t for those Celtics…
    1958-59, 1961-62, 1962-63, 1964-65, 1965-66, 1967-68, 1968-69, 1969-70, 1972-73 :: 9-times lost in NBA Finals, 7-times Celtics, 2-times Knicks
    1971-72 :: 1-time(!!!) NBA Champions

    3rd Dynasty (1979-1991) :: Kareem, Magic, Worthy – Showtime
    1979-80, 1980-81, 1984-85, 1986-87, 1987-88 :: 5-time NBA Champions
    1982-83, 1983-84, 1988-89, 1990-91 :: 4-times lost in NBA Finals, 76ers, Celtics, Pistons, Bulls

    4th Dynasty (1999-2004) :: Shaq, Kobe – Threepeat at Staples
    1999-00, 2000-01, 2001-02 :: 3-time NBA Champions, 3 consecutive championships
    2003-04 :: 1-time lost in NBA Finals, Pistons

    5th Dynasty (2007-????) :: Kobe, Gasol, Bynum – A new beginning?
    2007-08 :: 1-time Western Conference Winners

  37. Do you think that Kupchak was planning on Kwame turing into a star, and the way it ended up was just coincidence, or did he think ahead, with an “I’ll take a chance on Kwame, if it works out – Great! If not, then we can always trade the expiring contract.” thought?

  38. 24) Stern is definitely not hoping for a Detroit-San Antonio finals, which is still a relatively good possibility.

  39. exhelodrvr,
    Now we can look back on the Caron/Kwame trade with more unbiased judgment.
    A) In 2005/6 the Lakers really needed a big PF to bang with others in the West (Chris Mihm was the center and we planned to keep him, while drafting Bynum for the far future).
    B) Caron was going to sign with another club at the end of the season because we weren’t going to pay him big money to back up Kobe.
    C) The Booser situation hadn’t come on the horizon yet and Kwame represented the best bet for a dominant big body.

    Remember, Phil did get Kwame to serve as an imposing presence in the paint – he just didn’t have a lot of lateral movement. Kwame may look back on his career and remember that it was under Phil’s guidance that he performed the best during his NBA stint.

    On last thing I can’t resist…For all those jugheads who say this is the first year Kobe has made his teammates better…take a look at the number of players who had their career best years while playing with Kobe and then try to repeat that comment with a straight face.

  40. 32-I agree Kurt about Utah. Utah are dangerous. They’re quite focused and they’ve been flying under the radar with deadly efficiency. They really are a fairly well-oiled machine. I’d rather face PHX than them. They’re underdogs in the manner of the Spurs.

    Also, just wanted to weigh in as another interested party in a viewing party. I don’t post here as much as I’d like but I do lurk some and post as much as I can…although really, with some of the knowledge, there really isn’t much left for me to say. Still, I’m out in Corona but would be happy to drive somewhere (it’s all I do anywaya) to put some faces to some names. Anyway, GO LAKERS!!

  41. Going into the playoffs Houston seems to be the only team without any momentum. Utah if they play against Houston should have a very easy first round compared to us. They will pose a tough match up for us in the second round.

    I still think that being the first seed in the conference, we should be allowed to pick the opponent that we want to play against.. can this be implemented? ANY COMMENTS ON THIS..

  42. There is a big push all over the Web today from bloggers trying to get their owners to vote against allowing the Sonics to move to OKC. I think you all know I think the move is both a slap in the face of fans and just bad business. That said, I’m not sure sending an email to the Buss family threatening a boycott of OKC games is going to have much impact, particularly since Jeannie was part of the owners sub-committee that unanimously recommended the owners approve the move last week.

    That said, there are posts up all over the place. Sonics Central is leading the charge:

    http://sonicscentral.com/blog/?p=1844

  43. I fear both Utah and Phoenix, but would still rather play Utah. There aren’t any easy matchups in the West, so I’m not sure any bracket is going to be “easy” for us, even as the 1 seed.

    Utah has a point guard that would destroy us, but Nash is no slouch and I feel more comfortable with Gasol and Odom dealing with Boozer and Okur than Amare and Shaq. Amare would shred us worse than anyone in the league without Bynum’s secondary defense. Utah is soft in the middle on defense and they have had no answer for Kobe all year. It would be a tough, long series that either team could win, but I still feel like there are less disaster matchups with them than Phoenix.

  44. 39) Craig W,
    I wasn’t referring to the trade for Kwame (which I thought was reasonable at the time; I still feel that it was a reasonable risk considering the knowledge that was available AT THAT TIME). I was referring to the extension that the team gave him.

    I was against that, from a player perspective; I did wonder at the time if the intent was there to use the contract “down the road.” That would have required extreme foresight, which is not typical of most front offices. (That coming from someone who has alwyas felt that Kupchak has generally been underrated.)

  45. 43-I agree with you Reed. Phoenix has learned how to get the ball in the corner and deep post Shaq in his sweet spot. Shaq is trying on defense and rebounding, and the Nash/Amare pick and roll is the most unstoppable play in the NBA. Utah is a strong team, but they do not have an answer for Kobe, Fish plays D-Will tough (sometimes, ha) and Odom and Gasol can neutralize or outplay Booz and Okur.

    44-Mitch is defintley underrated, especially for what he has done in the draft:

    Bynum (no way he’d go 10th if they re-did the draft)
    Sasha (late 1st rd)
    Turiaf (2nd rd)
    Luke (2nd rd)

    I know its a slam dunk D.Ainge wins Exec of the year, but Mitch has done a great job, this year alone he turned Crit and Kwame (and pieces) into Gasol, B.Cook and Mo Evans into Ariza and signed Mbenga off the waiver wires. Not too bad.

  46. There are too many wild cards this year, nothing is very predictable. The Hornets I fear the most they have everything to win it all. Only thing they lack is the playoff experience, excluding Peja. Did they peak too early? Can’t say. Utah has been solid sine Korver came on board and he doesn’t even start. If WIlliams does what he did last year in the playoffs, you wouldnt want to face them. The Spurs are just ugly without Manu, they cannot score at any pace. I could easily seeing them bounce out of the first round or getting very far with the experience they have and if everyone gets healthy. No one is giving the Rockets any respect they could have had the #1 slot until a few days ago. Then again this is a T-mac team(he has never been out of the first round). Phoenix is playing well as of late but they also had some slip ups. How much can Shaqs body take, is their D still suspect where a team can post up huge number against them. It is a wild wild West…..Go Lakers!!

    I will be happy to support anything that puts a stop to the Sonics being in Oklahoma.

  47. I’m sure that at PHO, UTAH, SA blog posters are all saying that they are afraid of us and glad that they won’t face us until the 2nd round or conference finals. I agree that these teams are capable of beating the Lakers, but if we play our best, we should come out of the west. Not to be looking too far down the road, but my concerns are more for DET or BOS, which play tougher defense than any of the teams in the west with possible exception to SA. I’m sure DAL, UTA, DEN, and SA will be doing everything they can to avoid being on the same side of the bracket as the Lakers. That means, DAL will beat NO, who has nothing to play for. SA and UTA will play to win be the 3rd seed, most like with SA winning. Thus setting up the best possible scenario of Lakers facing DEN, UTAH, and either SA or PHO. If for some reason we face SA in the second round, it wouldn’t be too bad since TD is just not the same player anymore. He still has it, but he isn’t as dominant as he was, and Gasol matches up well against him. Obviously, Parker, Ginobili, Deron Williamses will give us more trouble, but with our team defense, we could limit the damage. If we can play solid team defense (which is already happening in spots), we will reach the Finals this year. If Bynum comes back between now and then, we’ll win the Championship. If not, we’ll still have a great shot! It’s our time! Our YEAR!

  48. Okay since I brought it up, maybe we should get a little more organized behind the notion of having a FB&G Lakers Playoff Viewing Party. Since we are all here because of Kurt, I vote for us having our 1st viewing party in Long Beach or South Bay. I don’t know any local sports bars in that area, so we might need someone to chime in with their recommendations. Ideally, we should aim for a sports bar with multiple big screens & accommodations for about 15-20 (I assume that might be max) people. I can whip up an Evite once a location has been determined.

    Since some of us are season ticket holders and/or are going to the home games, maybe we should organize one for a road game or at least a weekend game. I’m open to either home or road. Based on last year’s schedule, this 1st round is probably going to be as follows:
    Game 1 Sunday
    Game 2 Tuesday
    Game 3 Thursday
    Game 4 Sunday
    Game 5 Tuesday
    Game 6 Thursday

    Any thoughts or recommendations on a location?

    To better manage this, anyone who is interested in getting together please send me an email at adbarot@gmail.com. In the email please provide the following:
    a) Where you are located (possible carpool oppty)
    b) If you are willing to drive to Long Beach or the South Bay
    c) What games are you available to watch

    I’ll gather emails for the next 48 hours and if I get enough responses and we can settle on a place, I’ll send an evite out by Friday night.

  49. I’m rooting for Utah to take the three seed, for two reasons. One, a series of Chris Paul vs. Williams would be a great second round story, as would LA vs. Phoenix or LA vs. San Antonio. Second, I think the Lakers should be much more scared of Utah than San Antonio. The Spurs come in 4-3 in April, with losses to Phoenix, Utah, and the Lakers (and all pretty much blowout games.) Utah comes in off of a 5-1 April, with blowing out San Antonio and Denver, handling New Orleans by 11 and Houston by 9. Utah is a very good team peaking at a good time, where it looks like San Antonio is gassed (put up 64, 72, 79, 74, 85 in 5 games in a row).

    I’m definitely rooting for San Antonio and Utah to switch spots and get Utah out of the Lakers bracket until the WC Finals. If that’s even possible, but I don’t have time to run through the permutations of possible standings, I’m just excited that its still so up in the air this late in the game.

  50. I’m in Dallas, but will be in LA at some point for a playoff gathering. Would it be too ambitious to do something like rent out the Screen Room of the Anaheim ESPN Zone? Maybe some of our employers would chip in under the guise of “client development.”

  51. 49-Thats a pretty good argument, I guess it wouldn’t be so bad to play SA in the 2nd round, although I’d still rather play Utah over Phoenix.

  52. At the end of the day, it’s not going to make a huge difference who the Lakers play in Rd1…what answers that really need to be addressed is what is going to happen with Bynum? At this stage in the year, it seems to me that the organization is willing to sit him for the future (which insurance wise makes sense) but I’m truly afraid we won’t be able to bang with everyone in the gruelling WC without Bynum. If he’s not available, we will be in BIG trouble on the defensive end

  53. Hi gang. Short post for me. Busy day. Wanted to leave you with one thought.

    total point +/- for the season as a Laker:

    Gasol: +250
    Kwame: -47
    Critt: -40

    Oh and Fish: +309
    vs Smush last year: -81

    http://www.82games.com/0708/0708LAL1.HTM

    Also a fun recount by a end of season party hosted by Lamar on firegeorgekarl.com. Kurt were you there?

    http://www.firegeorgekarl.com/

    Oh and Craig. I posted that espn prediction page. No matter what happens this has been the most fun season since 1987.

  54. 53. Great George Karl link. And I’m flattered anyone would think I could get invited to parties like that. My party days were spent more in dank Irish pubs than swanky LA extravaganzas,

  55. Kurt- Do you think K. Love should come out? How about Collison?

  56. I don’t think either is making a bad choice. But I think they both need to be in the right place to really succeed (I guess that is true of most players).

    I’m not sure Collison could get much more out of college, and his quickness is really suited for the where the pro game is going, particularly if he heads to a team that likes to run. He can shoot, he shot 53% from three, had an eFG% of 57 and an offensive rating of 121. Plus 21% of his used possessions ended in an assist. I think he, like Farmar, starts off as a backup and Collison could evolve into a starter in a few years.

    Love, the only big knock is his conditioning, and how that impacts his athleticism. He is never going to be an Amare, but if your concern is a conditioning program then I say that’s a good risk to take. He looked a lot better in college compared to HS and by all accounts has a great work ethic. He struggled with more athletic guys like he’ll see in the NBA, but that is struggled by his standards, He still put up solid numbers and I think as he gets even better at using his body inside he will be fine. He grabbed 15.7% of UCLA’s misses when he was on the floor and had an offensive rating of 127. Plus, he shot 36% from three as a center, he can stretch the floor out to 18 feet and that fits very well in some offenses. He would not be a good fit in an up-and-down offense ala Golden State, but in something like what Utah (and the Lakers) run he’d be great. Plus, those outlet passes will light up the crowd.

  57. thanks Kurt, didn’t know Collison shot so well, he may end up being a great late lottery, mid 1st rd pick.

  58. Is the UC Riverside contingent still around? Maybe we could get a carpool going out to the FBG viewing party or set up something local?

  59. Not Charlie Rosen April 16, 2008 at 3:51 pm

    Couple of celebratory thoughts…

    The last 3 games were really great. NO, huge lead, let it slip quite a bit, but held on to win. San Antonio, huge lead, learned the lesson from NO, keep the foot down, starters sit in the 4th. Sac, huge lead, keep the foot down, starters sit in the fourth.

    In 3 games, we played the #2 and #3 teams in our conference, and had leads of at least 25 points in all of them.

    I know reg season momentum doesn’t necessarily carry over to the postseason, but what I really like about these last few games is: the team identified their goal, set out to execute, kept their focus and executed (nearly) flawlessly. And I think that *does* carry over into the postseason.

    As to who we face next, the only team that scares me is Denver. There’s an old saying, “The only person that scares the best swordfighter in the world isn’t the second best swordfighter…it’s the worst swordfighter. He knows every move that the second best will do, and it’s all about execution…the worst swordsfighter, no one has any clue what he’s going to do.”

    Denver (and GS, if they had made it) scare me because they’re so inconsistent. They can blow up, or implode, and you don’t know which team you’re going to be facing. It’s like playing poker with a guy who’s horrible and says “You know what, let’s not look at our cards, and just flip a coin to see who gets the pot.”

    SA, Phoenix, Dallas, Houston…these are teams with clear identities that do particular things that a great coach (like Phil and his staff) can scheme for…they’re the second best swordfighters…we know what they’re going to do, it all comes down to execution. And that’s where I think we finally have the advantage (except maybe SA, but we’ve got youth and energy to execute at a higher level, even if it isn’t flawless).

    Final thought: weeeeeeeeeeeeee!

  60. Ok, forget match ups that might provide favorable post-season outcomes for the Lakers. There is nothing I want more than to see the Lakers go through the Suns to get to the Finals. I don’t care how hard that series might be, how much it might take out of the team. I want them to answer smug D’Antoni’s remarks after the Lakers man-handled the Suns at the beginning of the season, “He might want to try to do it in playoff time when we bust them every year.”

    I want the Lakers to bust the Suns hard.

  61. I’m trying to see if this works, but the best storyline would be to have:

    1. Dallas in the first – get rid of the ghost of JKidd and stuff the past MVP.

    2. Suns in the second – defeat the Suns, our nemesis for the past two POs, AND Shaq.

    3. SA or NO in the WCF – if SA, defeat the champs ; if NO, defeat the ‘other’ cinderella and feel good story of the season, as well as the other MVP candidate.

    4. Boston in the finals – no explanation necessary

  62. Although the Jazz have looked good recently, the one reason I am eager for them to be our 2nd round matchup is that beatdown we put on them in Utah, without Gasol (& Bynum, of course).

    The Jazz had a 20 game home winning streak on the line and had the best home record in the league at the time, and we jumped out to a 38-18 lead and didn’t look back.

    I know it was just one game (and we got crushed there earlier in the season) but that was a win that built up my confidence for our ability to shut them down come playoff time.

  63. Rob L.,
    I really don’t want payback. If all our most bitter enemies get defeated before we get a crack at them, then so be it. I want to focus only on one thing – the 2007/8 NBA Championship trophy. The easiest way to accomplish that goal is good enough for me.

    Looking down on D’Antoni, holding up a trophy; while he doesn’t have any in his closet sounds just fine to me. Besides, for the 2 times the Suns come to Staples next year, I want to be able to point out the Championship Banner hanging in the rafters and ask him about his statement in late 2007.

  64. Why are the Hornets playing their main guys tonight against Dallas? I have a feeling they don’t want to face them in the playoffs. That’s bad news for the Lakers if the Mavs lose this game.

  65. 64- I was just gonna say the same thing, looks like they want to play Denver too.

  66. It’s sort of a bind for the Hornets, isn’t it. If you had some strategy you really liked against Dallas, some matchup to exploit, would you want to go at it tonight and tip your hand for a possible series starting this weekend or do you play a more “vanilla” game? Or, do you go at it and hope to avoid them?

  67. I was reading http://www.hornets247.com and their poster mentioned he doesn’t care who they face in the first round–he cares more about the team gaining a little momentum heading into the playoffs.

    After some disappointing losses cost the Hornets the #1 seed, I can imagine Byron Scott probably feels the same way.

  68. so mavs are winning this game, and we got what we are hoping for, right?

  69. jellosjigglin’ April 16, 2008 at 6:37 pm

    looks like dallas is about to wrap up game 1 of their first round series w/ noh. its like a pre-playoff-season game.

    bring on the nuggets! pop a bottle, pour one for me and one for melo

  70. So we’re facing the Nuggets. Thanks Dallas!!!

    GO LAKERS!!!!

  71. Dallas beat NO, so we get the Nugs in round one… did anyone else see that game? Jason Kidd went 27-10-10… I’m worried for the Hornets!

    … and really glad that we don’t have to deal with it!

  72. Man… it just seems like everything is falling into place for us this season. Jerry Buss must have killed Hitler in his past life because that man has some amazing Karma.

  73. utah jazz definitely want to lose to spurs so that they can play Rockets and avoid spurs in the 1st round.

  74. If the scoreboard stays as they are, we’ll have #1Lakers vs #8 Nuggets, #2 Hornets vs #7 Mavs, #3 Spurs vs #6 Suns and #4 Jazz vs #5 Rockets.

    Hence in 2nd round :(wishful thinking) Lakers vs Jazz,
    Hornets vs Suns (???)

    Lakers vs Suns in WCF.

    Lakers vs Celtics for the crown. Let’s see in 2 months.

  75. Lakers Nuggets 1st round… worst case scenario, 5 game series win… I prefer to see a sweep of the Nuggets!!

    It’s time to remind the rest of the league what the Lakers were like back in 2000 when they won the first of three titles!!!

  76. I also read that post on firegeorgekarl.com … if it’s real, it’s pretty good news, though disappointing that Kobe didn’t show. And awesome that Coby Karl had the biggest entourage! Haha.

  77. @ Laker Pauer, I think Buss was alive when Hitler was around. So let’s stretch it further and say he helped in the Revolution?

    As for the post on firegeorgekarl.com, it was a nice read and knowing of Kobe’s intensity, he probably skipped the party and locked himself in a dark room with game film or in a gym shooting jumpers.

    The post was so right on Derek Fisher, our de facto godfather.

  78. The Dude Abides April 16, 2008 at 8:49 pm

    I’m glad we won’t have to deal with Brandon Bass in the first round. I’d rather take our chances with Kenyon Martin. Bass is playing better than Martin right now because he sticks with his strengths.

    I think a well-prepared, structured team (plus Kobe) like the Lakers will beat a freelance team like the Nuggets in any series, especially because the Nuggets aren’t all that good defensively. The NBA Finals is looking more likely with tonight’s games. Denver, likely Utah, and only one of NO, SA, PHO, or DAL.

  79. The Networks must be salivating this yr.
    First Rd series that could be “must see tv”:
    Lakers-Nuggs. Offense galore.(Let’s be honest,there’s not going to be alot of good D in this series.)
    Hornets-Mavs. Kidds last stand? The young upstarts vs the team w/demons.
    Spurs-Suns. Duncan.Amare. And a dash of Shaq.Parker-Nash. GINOBLI!
    Magic-Raptors. Howard vs Bosh.(Bosh usually puts up huge numbers against Dwight.)
    Cavs-Wizards. Wiz really don’t like Cavs and don’t particularly respect them.
    Potential Second Rd Series that would get hyped to death:
    Lakers-Rockets. At long last, Kobe vs T-Mac.

    Just about all of the series have something intriguing,so I might as well lay in the junk food and Mtn Dew and be content to be a couch potato for next few weeks.
    Celts-Cavs. KG vs LeBron.

  80. Coby Karl HAS A POSSE!

  81. It looks like the results today were just about the best we could hope for.

    Our bracket–with Denver, Utah, and Houston, is obviously the easier of the two. The only really scary team here is Utah (I don’t care if they keep winning–I still don’t believe in the Rockets), and we’ve been able to handle the Jazz this season.

    That, and I could see every match-up in the other bracket going for seven games.

    I feel good about this!

  82. Duh, he’s “Coby Karl, George Karl’s Son,” of course he has a posse!

    (BTW who is this guy who can get invited to Lamar’s parties?)

  83. Kobe not attending speaks volumes, don’t you think?

    It’s just so darn tantalizing when an otherwise superior player and athlete, possessing qualities you can only dream of, falls so short on things you have in abundance.

    or at least others do. on second thought, i’m not all that mature or leader-like myself.

  84. (79) – Emma,
    That’s what I was wondering. What kind of blogger gets invited to NBA player parties?!

  85. Here are the final seedings:

    1 lakers
    8 nuggets

    4 jazz
    5 rockets

    2 hornets
    7 mavs

    3 spurs
    6 suns

    We got what we (the apparent majority) hoped for in playing the Nuggets in the first round. Lets hope that Vlad can play some good defense on Carmelo. In the 4th quarter, do you think that Kobe will switch and guard A.I. or Carmelo or neither?

  86. poor houston
    they are going to get devastated…
    will be the fastest and least entertaining out of the west matchups
    however NO vs DAL and SAS vs PHO
    will be more entertaining than some conference finals

  87. what is the status on bynum?

    after that NY checkup last week its been all quiet lately.
    hopefully he could get back to us in the second round, i mean, what we have now is nice, but with him we could REALLY be special.

    With how the playoff matchup play out, i think we have more than a decent chance to go far this year! if we get bynum back, man, its ovER!!!

  88. Warren Wee Lim April 17, 2008 at 2:04 am

    It seems to me like we’re playing past May this year…

    I did have the best BDay gift by landing the bracket I envisioned in my head. I have my perfect bracket. While a few of the guys including Kurt prefer the SPuRs over the Jazz in round 2 (really?!), I keep my position that what we have before us, is the best case scenario. No if and buts, we need to perform.

    Round 1

    Lakers – Nuggets
    Denver is an offensive team. Don’t ask me about what they do on defense because apparently they don’t have that in theur resume. They play “cute” defense from time to time but offense is their speciality. George Karl will enjoy breakfast with Coby but he will have dinner and nightmare with Kobe.

    Prediction: Lakers in 5.

    Jazz – Rockets
    I still say the 23-win streak is a fluke. I mean, if they had to do it all again, I seriously doubt they’ll get 15 in succession. It was a case of making history in a very unlikely manner. But that’s all there is. Utah is a much stable team and they have everything.

    Prediction: Jazz in 6.

    Hornets-Mavs
    I know some “experts” and “in-the-knows” believe in New Orleans as I say they are a very good team, but I just don’t think this is their year. I will make a bold prediction and it won’t be NOH coming out of this series.

    Prediction: Mavs in 7.

    Spurs-Suns
    This is a series to watch, and a bracket to remember. For me there are no underdogs, No not even Phoenix without homecourt against San Antonio and even with Dallas not having one against NOH. All four teams have the potential to exit early or get to the WCF. Only 1 thing is certain, this bracket will be brutal and I’m glad we’re on the other side of the fence.

    Prediction: Spurs in 7.

    Side comment: I know all you guys are marking out SA (really?!) as the “upset” but I think both squads are dead even. Suns have their number in the regular season but the playoffs are a totally different story. I give the Spurs the victory sheerly because of them being defending champs and playing better D.

    =================================

    Round 2

    As the Lakers and Jazz cruise through “easier” victories, the Spurs/Suns and Hornies/Mavs continue to grind it out on the bracket of death.

    I predict the Lakers to win against the Jazz. There is no denying. Deron can kill us single-handedly but with a possible sighting of Drew coming off the bench (yes, I predict that too) Utah simply cannot defend our bigs. It will be another shootout 230s scoreboard and it will be fun.

    The bracket of death will feature my “underdogs” as the matchups. I say underdog because many of you here seem to like NOH and PHX over SA and DAL. They are rather dull to watch, I agree but they are the “better” teams. I stick with that one.

    And so the WCF. I shall root for Dallas though I have reason to believe the Spurs will get them. In spite of that, I want to face either Dallas or SA in the WCF. We have Dallas’ number and we have something to prove against SA.

    Bring on Boston!!

    What are your brackets??

  89. That Was/Cle series may include Lebron throttling D. Stevenson, should be fun

    That Shaq/Duncan matchup will be great, with the two pillars of the league both trying to make one more run and be the first to 5 titles

    That NO/Dal series will be entertaining with J.Kidd and CP3 going at all game every game

    Any series with T-Mac is great because he tends to have a moment where it looks good, followed by wilting like a flower without sun

    This playoffs will bring the leauge back even more than the regular season has, there will be epic Game 7′s, ratings will be up, and best of all, the Lakers will be playing a starring role.

  90. #75 I’d actually like to remind the world what the Lakers were like in 2001 when they cruised through the playoffs losing only one game. That was fun to watch.

  91. The Lakers are clearly the Western Conference Champs. There has been nothing so far to indicate that they can’t also be Western Conference Playoff Finalists.

    It’s heady stuff, but the balloon could pop any time.

    I’m not ready to talk about that “final step” until we see what two teams are left standing in those finalist slots. I’m not even ready to talk about the second round.

    I am ready to talk about the first round.

    It is hard not to predict the Lakers over the Nuggets. We seem to be their kryptonite. The Nuggets have proved a great deal by getting into the playoffs and winning 50 games. I hope that the L:akers feel that they have much more to prove.

    The Jazz had their way against the Rockets with Yao last year in the playoffs. It’s hard to see the Jazz losing against the Rockets without Yao. But. . . .yes, I said but. . . consider this factoid: “Houston won 35 of its last 43 regular-season games.” They will have home court advantage. Their bouncebacks from adversity follow and even surpass a seasonal roller coaster ride of a certain purple and gold team we love dearly. We must admire the Rockets.

    I favor the Jazz (and here comes that “but” again) but I’m prepared to be surprised. I hope that the Jazz are equally prepared.

    The Hornets learned why Dallas made that crazy trade for Jason Kidd–and the playoffs haven’t even started yet. MVP candidate Paul was 20-10-3. Old “washed up” Jason was 27-10-10.

    The Hornets should be scared–very scared. I’m even scared for the Lakers-because the Mavericks are not going out in the first round.

    I’m sure that Spurs are still revelling in the stomping they delivered to those Suns last year in the playoffs. Warning to the Spurs: there’s a new sheriff in town–and he’s been to San Antonio before.

    Note to San Antonio: Don’t break Steve’s nose again. Don’t even think about it.

    The Suns have got a passion for redemption in their hearts. I believe that the trade for Shaq was in preparation for this matchup at the Alamo. A first round loss wouldn’t surprise many of the pessimistic bloggers in San Antonio. If the Laker’s need to face the Suns, it’s better that they work that “redemption” out of their system first.

  92. new post up, starting to break down the Nuggets.

  93. and foxes every let it go. my days else by themselves and dream. and we plants Now, are all where I spent even or burnt,