Preview & Chat: The Philadelphia 76ers

Kurt —  March 17, 2009


Records: Lakers 53-13 (1st in the West) 76ers 33-31 (6th in the East)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 113.8 (1st in league) 76ers 106.3 (23rd in league)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 105.6 (6th in league) 76ers 105.6 (6th in league)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Trevor Ariza, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol
76ers Andre Miller, Willie Green (appropriate guy to start today), Andre Iguodala, Thaddeus Young, Samuel Dalembert

The Lakers coming in: Lest you think only you noticed this, early in his post game press conference after the Dallas game, Phil Jackson talked about how the Lakers have lost the killer instinct they had earlier in the season, when they got up by 15 and buried teams.

The players kind of shrugged that off at practice Monday. I personally think this is really a matter of boredom and focus, plus the injury to Bynum weakening the rotations. The Lakers keep winning, and while they get up for the challenges — back-to-backs in Houston and San Antonio — they get up by 15 early on Dallas and they just kind of start going through the motions.

But now is the time to start changing that, to start getting focused, because if it is Dallas in the first round they may not be so lucky to come back and win those games.

The 76ers Coming In: This is the first game of a six-game West Coast swing for the Sixers, who come in with a three game winning streak. The swing is a tough test, but it’s a chance for a team that is just missing that little something to pull together before the playoffs. They likely will get Orlando in the first round, and that is a tough task but not an impossible one (after the Nelson injury).

That little thing the Sixers lack, by the way, is any kind of consistent outside shooter. Nobody on the team stretches the floor. They are sort of like Utah of three years ago that way.

I have always loved Andre Miller’s game, he is a classic PG who can pass, penetrate and play solid defense. And he is playing well — scoring 18 a game while shooting 54% and dishing out 8 assists per game the last 10. Of course, the other guy to watch is Iguodala, who leads he team in scoring, slashes to the hole as well as anyone and gets them both assists and rebounds. Plus, he is the only guy to fear from three on this team, shooting 36.4% in the last 10 games from deep.

Keys To The Game: My one word of advice — don’t drink green beer tonight. Green eggs and ham I could see, but beer? No.

If there was one game where the Lakers pack-the-paint style of defense should work, it is this one — the 76ers are the worst three point shooting team in the NBA, hitting just 31.5% of their attempts. What they do have is an athletic front line, but if you can keep them out of the paint and shooting jumpers, they struggle. (That said, the Lakers need to be ready to adjust, Donyell Marshall got hot from three in their last game against the Heat and it changed everything.)

On defense, the Sixers are about gambling and forcing turnovers, which leads to easy buckets going the other way with all the athletic guys they have that can fill the lanes. The Lakers have to take care of the ball — I’m looking at you Farmar and Sasha.

Also, the Sixers do play some zone, and after the disaster against Dallas, you can be sure they will pull it out tonight. Darius talked about how to attack that:

The way to beat a zone is with the high post flash and the baseline player running from short corner to short corner as the ball reverses. Odom and Powell would be perfect in this role, but we have to be patient and move the ball.

One other lesson needs to be learned from the Dallas game — when the zone came out the Lakers became a jump shooting team, and that fueled some transition baskets for the Mavs. The Sixers are very good in the open court and would love some long rebounds and chances to run. Just another reason to make sure the ball gets inside early and often. Second unit, I’m looking at you. Again.

Where you can watch: 7:30 start at Staples, on Fox Sports in LA, if you’re already not too drunk on St. Patrick’s Day. And if you are, don’t drive (insert your own Norm Nixon joke here, if you want).


319 responses to Preview & Chat: The Philadelphia 76ers

  1. Kobe, clutch.

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  2. Now what? do we take all the comments about Kobe back?..haha

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  3. Wow Kobe. That’s courage after missing so many. big 3. can we say clutch?

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  4. it was a long two.

    I think someone told Kobe about all the comments here. 🙂

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  5. i was about had jamal crawford possesed kobe but he comes though eventually

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  6. oh my God! Can anybody explain how Kobe misses 5 straight shot then bury a clutch 20 footer?

    Mamba, i apologize for my comment earlier (171)

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  7. Jesus…

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  8. Ugh. Andre. Wow. One good turn deserves another.

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  9. Wow, they had a foul to give too?

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  10. Philly went away from the Miller/Marshall P&R for no apparent reason. And that turnover killed them. Kobe finally waved off the screen and just shoots. WOW!

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  11. wow, just wow

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  12. Oh, Ariza. Got to give the foul.

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  13. The Dude Abides March 17, 2009 at 9:52 pm

    Trevor, that was a bonehead move. You had a foul to give!

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  14. Lakers deserved to lose this game…No Ifs, ands, or buts about it!!!

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  15. WOW. Iggy. We didn’t earn it anyway, I guess.

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  16. An Iguodala 3? Really? Whatever. Lakers didn’t deserve this win after the way they played in the 4th.

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  17. thats crazy not fouling crazy

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  18. I don’t even know what to say. Kobe tried to bail them out at the end, but this wasn’t a team that deserved to win the game. Just too sloppy all the way around. Learn the lesson, shake it off, and get ready for the next one.

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  19. Still an amazing shot, but yeah.

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  20. Ouch. Well, Philly deserved this. They tried harder.

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  21. Yea, why didnt he foul him…..makes no sense whatsoever.

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  22. maybe kobe did the testicle dance in his mind…

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  23. Now that was a clutch shot, just by the wrong team.

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  24. testicle dance, yeah probably.

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  25. Lakers’ starters: Combined +63 (including Kobe’s -9)

    Laker’s bench: Combined -70

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  26. EJ’s Neato Stat of the Night…Lakers bench a combined -70…throw in Kobe’s horrible -9…and you got a big L!!!!

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  27. Sucks for me because im from philly area, so now i have to hear about this shot for weeks….

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  28. Not putting team’s away when you can will cost you games.

    We continue to play down to the competition. Maybe we aren’t as good as we think we are? I don’t know how this team continues to have mental issues with commitment and effort.

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  29. This team doesn’t deserve HCA throughout. They’ve gotta drop the act too because I’m not so sure all of them want to win a championship either, because if they did the damn bench wouldn’t let a 14 point lead slip and let the game end up this close. Just embarrassing. The bench is gonna get the team burned in the playoffs.

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  30. If the Lakers don’t get HCA throughout the entire playoffs…this game will surely haunt us…

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  31. Phil Jackson is right, this team has no killer instinct right now, not a good sign

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  32. Fantastic Loss. Aside with all the worrisome signs within the game, we now have to wait on a hot Cleveland team to lose in order to regain home court in the finals. Or else face a team trying to tie the nba’s best ever home record. Fantastic. I’m thrilled.

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  33. The Dude Abides March 17, 2009 at 10:00 pm

    Ok Phil, now that we’re a game down and the Cavs have a MUCH more favorable schedule the rest of the way, it’s time to start limiting Pau’s minutes. We’re not going to get home court if we play them in the Finals anyway, and there’s no way Boston, Orlando, or the Spurs are going to catch us. Give DJ some minutes, there’s nothing to lose now. He certainly can’t do any worse than Powell did tonight, a -22 in only 13 minutes with Philly’s bigs pounding him on the boards. At least DJ gives us an inside presence on defense. Powell tries, but he just doesn’t intimidate.

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  34. I hope this is a huge wakeup call for the team. Stu Lantz flat out said this Laker team doesn’t have the killer instinct right now and I have to agree. Our bench has got to find a way to at least preserve the leads that the starters give them. Kobe had a bad game, but not fouling before the shot is inexcusable. We have to learn to play D for longer stretches (we can’t for 48) and close out teams when we have the chance. I wonder if the team is losing focus with no big “statement” games left in the regular season… With a road-heavy schedule, dropping these really hurts. We now look up to the Cavs in the race for HCA. Let’s turn it around Lakers!!

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  35. The lakers bench went from huge plus to a major liability in about 12 months. The good news Andrew will firm up the bench and the starters will be playing more minutes in the playoffs

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  36. well I’m pretty disgusted. there’s just no way PHI should have a 21-4 or whatever it was run over us at home in 4Q.

    the chance of getting HCA over cleveland is pretty slim now.

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  37. I think that pretty much ends HCA. Looking at our schedule, I predict at least 1 loss on the 6 game road trip, and at least 1 loss to the combo of Houston, Denver, Portland, and Utah. Compare that to Cleveland, whose only tough remaining games are San Antonio, @ Orlando, and Boston, there’s almost no chance they blow more than two of those, and there’s a very small chance that we lose only two of our remaining games.

    Hopefully, this will light a fire under our bench to come out and play hard. They’ve been lazy the past couple of weeks, and it shows in their passes and their defense.

    What’s amazing is that we’ve only lost one game by more than 12 points, and we’ve only lost 5 games by double digits.

    Overall, there’s very little positive spin you can put on this game, other than hoping this gets the Lakers noticing that they’ve been playing like crap and need to take it up a notch.

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  38. Our bench is straight up horrible. Even if our starters build a huge lead, our awful bench can’t even sustain it. I think Ariza needs to go back to the bench to help the second unit get it going. Heck, I’d rather start Ammo over Luke. Ammo was a poor man’s Radman anyways….

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  39. the other Stephen March 17, 2009 at 10:05 pm

    them turnovers were straight up raining on my parade.

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  40. At this point, I’d be happy for any instinct, killer or otherwise.

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  41. Does anyone remember the year Darin Erstad hit .370 or when Beltre hit 48 homers. I think we will be looking at Sasha’s year last year the same way people look at those years. Outliers to end all outliers.

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  42. 240. Ammo is not even a homeless man’s Radman. This is a guy coming off major knee surgery with shot confidence. He is not the answer. The answer at this point has to be within the existing rotation guys. No magical help is coming.

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  43. Then the Lakers are screwed

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  44. Well, the doomsday pronouncements above are bit too much (Iguodala, a 30% three-point shooter, nails his only three out of seven for the night), but HCA does look like a faraway prospect. This is a game when Bynum is particularly missed for controlling the paint. Again though, this is one game. We went through the motion for quite a bit in this game, and we know we bring our game when the matchup demands it.

    We were also banking on Cleveland losing a few even before this game. Their only difficult game away from home is Orlando (and maybe Washington, as they seem to have Cleveland’s number), so we’re banking on Boston or San Antonio beating them at home.

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  45. PeanutButterSpread March 17, 2009 at 10:15 pm

    Well that sucked balls of steel.

    Good news is if the Portland blowout wasn’t a wake up call, this loss to the 76ers might be.

    Well, wash this one out with listerine, salt solutions, whatever works that will leave behind that disgusted taste in your mouth.

    Ominous signs were pointing this way when our starters spotted big leads against Spurs and Mavs, but our bench couldn’t hold on to them and needed the starters to clean up their mess … it was only a matter of time before it bit them in the behind.

    I guess all that “practice” against the zone on Monday didn’t do much good.

    How do you punish bench players? I don’t know what else the coaching crew can do to motivate them or get them playing right. Losing doesn’t seem to motivate them. I’m almost wishing for a trade, send Jordie and Sasha for ………….

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  46. dave in hillsboro March 17, 2009 at 10:16 pm

    235: There’s also no guarantee that Cleveland makes it out of the East. If that’s the only team that has a better record than us, then we might just have home court throughout after all, since Cleveland is going to have to get past Orlando and/or Boston to make it to the finals. Does a healthy Boston beat Cleveland in a seven game series? It’s certainly not cut and dried.

    I think KG is probably healthier than his recent appearances (or lack thereof) on court would indicate. Losing Powe probably hurts them, but we’ll see how that goes. Cleveland lost Wally tonight, for who knows how long. They might run into some adversity, starting with a visiting Blazer team. Can I get a let’s go Blazers?

    Also, add me to the list of people who think we can beat Cleveland in the Finals without home court.

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  47. No, we will not get homecourt, 7 road game trip is too much and Cleveland who never loses at home has too many home games remaining. I think a fully healthy Boston team can beat Cleveland, even without the homecourt. Thats what we will need to hope on.

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  48. Both Jordan and Sasha have regressed quite a lot this year. Perhaps we should have seen this coming. Couple that with the loss of VladRad and Andrew getting injured again, and you have a major weakness on the bench.

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  49. PeanutButterSpread,

    Well, let’s not put our GM caps on yet. There’s a lot of games left in the season. I don’t think Farmar is going anywhere. Vujacic might get some looks, but if he’s playing poorly, that’s going to drive down his trade value, especially with a $5 million contract going through ’10-’11.

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  50. But really, home court is a lesser worry than the state of our bench players – namely Farmar and Sasha, because even Luke has moments of good play once in a while. If our bench continues to destroy the team’s chances like they have done recently, we’re not winning the title, with or without home court

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  51. That early stretch of the third quarter illustrated “bad” Kobe – he was mad because of the first half foul trouble, so he came out determined to make up for it, no matter what. So (if memory serves) he made two very nice shots, then got the ball knocked out of his hands, then got an offensive foul. Four trips down, Gasol (in the midst of a 25-28 string, or something similar) never touches the ball.

    Then, the second half of the 4th quarter, we saw “good” Kobe. He would initiate things, defense would adjust to him, and he would pass to a teammate. They went from a 5 point deficit to a four (?) point lead during that stretch.

    With “good” Kobe, this team is unstoppable, even without Bynum. With that mixture of “good” and “bad”, and no Bynum, it’s a crap shoot.

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  52. The fact that our two best bench players (Lamar and Ariza – 18 pts combined) in the beginning of the year are now starters will definitely weaken any bench. It’s just sad to see that none of the current bench players are stepping up….

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  53. My friend and I have been debating the defense (or there lackof) the last couple weeks… My thoughts to him were that some guys have it in their DNA or eventually “get it” when it comes to playing D. Kobe, Fisher (even though he’s getting up there in age), Ariza, Farmar and Bynum could probably develop from solid to excellent defenders as their mental skills mature. Some of the other guys obviously don’t, Sasha being one of them. (I appologize if I’m stating the obvious) I’m still not convinced the Lakers could win it all because of their lack of commitment to the defensive end.

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  54. Although, I just want to point out that when the Sixers went on that 24-4 run in the fourth, I think Kobe and Pau were on the floor the entire time.

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  55. Worst comes to worst, at least we’ve beaten Cleveland at home.

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  56. This was just a bad, bad loss. So I don’t want to jump to conclusions. The turnovers really hurt us and those aren’t a staple of our game at all. We did not take care of the ball and (as Kurt said in the preview) Philly took advantage of their extra possessions.

    One thing that really hurt our bench was their inability to stop dribble penetration and rebound on our defensive glass. Louis Williams was a team high +16 on the night and had 18 points and 6 assists. We could not contain him when he came in the game and he changed the pace by forcing his agenda on us. The only saving grace of our second team was that they did get the ball to Pau more. But even that was for naught as we went away from him in the 4th quarter when Donyell Marshall and Reggie Evans were in the game to guard him. To compound the mistake, we went P&R (which Philly defended well all night) and Kobe (uncharacteristically) made too many mistakes with the ball by leaving his feet to pass and allowing defenders to poke the ball away by not protecting his dribble. We played a careless game for most of the night by not protecting the ball on offense and not rebounding. That’s how you lose a game.

    (Besides the rebounding issue) I don’t think our other mistakes are indicative of what type of team we are, but we did get out-efforted and that’s disconcerting. Philly is a scrappy team, but still, we need to play harder in these games.

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  57. We shouldn’t panic yet…once Bynum comes back, our bench will be a lot better. I’m not worried about Sasha, he doesn’t get fazed by poor shooting. He’s confident enough to get out of it. I’m more worried about Luke and Farmar because their play is driven by their confidence. If they have none, then they’re a waste of space out there….

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  58. Ryan,

    We’ve discussed this constantly, but a lot of the problems is the team coasting through a good portion of regular season games. Take away our best rebounder and shot blocker and coasting through games is a lot harder. I think getting Bynum back will by a psychological boost as much as a boost in a basketball sense. He made up for a lot of mistakes from the second unit also.

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  59. I have a bad feeling about the Golden State game… Laker slumps usually take more than two games to wear off. And I remember we had two inexcusable losses (one to Memphis at Staples) last year… I hope I’m wrong.

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  60. we had a foul to give… why didnt we use it
    ?

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  61. Don’t I feel like a fool for defending the defense today.

    The Sixers repeatedly went to the rim. They are not a jump shooting team, and way too many buckets were lay ups, dunks, or fingerolls. I haven’t checked the box score but it seems we got pounded on the boards as well.

    Now we have to make up a game.

    So, like Kurt said:

    Remember the Mantra

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  62. The race for Homecourt Advantage began months ago. When the Lakers lost winnable games, everyone said, “It’s one loss, not the end of the world.”

    Funny how when I mentioned the importance of HCA back in December, I only received criticism for blowing one (for each time they lost) out of proportion.

    The truth is, the Lakers have a better record than their actual skill. Easy early scheduling allowed for the illusion, and people bought into it. Now we have a 7-game roadtrip, at nearly the end of the season, with Cavaliers (almost) cruising on easy street the rest of the way.

    When/if we meet the Cavaliers in the Finals, and have to win on the road at the best home team’s house, all these “unimportant, regular season losses” will seem a lot more important.

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  63. The Dude Abides March 17, 2009 at 10:39 pm

    Pau appeared to me to be fatigued during Philly’s big run. I thought PJ should have rested Pau at the beginning of the 4th with that 11-point lead, and have LO and DJ as our two bigs. Let Pau have the timeout between quarters to rest, plus about four minutes of the 4th. Then you bring him back in along with Josh Powell when you take DJ out, and LO gets a few minutes of rest. I’m guessing that Phil didn’t want to risk having DJ in against the Sixer ballhawking defense. Either that or he blamed DJ for the six-point run at the end of the first quarter, but that run was almost entirely due to a series of bad plays by Luke.

    Our bigs were very slow closing out on Marshall on his first two 3-pointers. I would like to think that DJ or Lamar would have done a better job defending him on those two plays. The third one he hit was in transition after a turnover, so that one wasn’t on our big men.

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  64. 263- there is some truth in that. Our “pythagorean” record is 49-17 according to basketball-reference.com.

    It seems we may have outperformed our team’s true talent level a bit. After coughing up leads to so many teams, we should at least consider that we really aren’t as good as we have thought.

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  65. 264, my bad.

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  66. Muzik,
    ” the Lakers have a better record than their actual skill.”
    I disagree with that. They are still (IMO) the best team in the league; you can’t complain too much if someone wants to say that Cleveland is better, but at this point those two are clearly leading the pack. The Lakers record is actually worse than their skill – they are still in the process of optimizing the application of all that skill. (And that statement applies to EVERYONE on the roster.)

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  67. Bynum will be the second best bench player in the league (Mano #1) when he gets back, so I think that will answer a lot of questions

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  68. Well, at least I have World Baseball Classic to keep my mind off this ugly loss.

    … of course, if Korea loses, my mood will be doubly worse.

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  69. Muzik,

    The race begins with the 1st game. We all know that. And NO, one loss in the middle of the season is only one loss because it’s an 82 game NBA season. Not college football. Predicting a loss will come back to haunt us isn’t predicting anything. They happen. Losses like tonight may come back to haunt us. Not one in December. There are still 15 game sleft, and we beat cleveland twice.

    So, please, don’t act like Nostradamus about predicting this with a loss in December.

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  70. If we face Cleveland, HCA won’t be as important as it would against Boston. We match up very well against Cleveland, we beat them in 5 either way. We won there already – in fact, we beat them fairly handily both times we played them. Boston, OTOH, matches up well against us, and we need HCA to play them (and, barring a major collapse, we will have HCA against them).

    As for tonight’s game. It sucked. Move on. It means very little in the grand scheme of things. This team tends to play up/down to perceived challenge presented. This is why we can go on the road and beat two of the West’s toughest teams. And why we can lose at home to craptacular teams like Charlotte, and now Philly.

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  71. “Our “pythagorean” record is 49-17 according to basketball-reference.com. ”

    ???? Right. According to a formula we are not as good as our record. I can’t believe people put stock into that.

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  72. And I think the “we’re not as good as our record” argument is so much b.s.

    We’re 11-4 against the top 4 teams of each conference. Cleveland is only 7-7. Boston is only 7-7. We’ve played our best against the best.

    And our schedule hasn’t been “easy” either – according to Mark Cuban’s blog, we’ve been screwed the most by the NBA schedule makers in terms of playing the most back-to-backs against teams coming off a rest.

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  73. What concerns me isn’t the game itself, it’s the Lakers’ reactions to Phil’s killer instinct statement (that Kurt alluded to in the OP), and now this game.

    The Lakers’ comments in the LA Times today were almost flippant. Kobe and Lamar both essentially yawned and said, “Yeah, that’s just Phil trying to motivate us. No biggie.” Uh, no, that was Phil stating the facts.

    We’re not in trouble as long as our players revert back to the hunger they had at the beginning of the season. It sounds strange to say, but without having won anything, it’s almost as if some players play with a sense of entitlement.

    The solution:

    If I was Phil, I’d spend all of tomorrow replaying Game 6 of the Finals in its entirely for the team. Over and over again. In a constant loop. With ultra slo-mos. And Van Gundy and Mark Jackson commentating. Until the Lakers run screaming from the movie room, fall to their knees, and promise to never be out-hustled again. A young team can’t always turn the switch like some veteran teams can.

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  74. Yeah, basically. We are not as good as our record indicates. It seems wild, but…

    Wins and losses are not the only way to measure a team’s performance is what that is getting at, I believe.

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  75. This loss doesn’t worry me as much because it was a lucky shot at the end of the game, and hopefully players will learn what to do in that situation in the future. I agree with the above posts which state that it is much more important to get Home court against boston as opposed to cleveland. So let cleveland prosper and shine in this newfound glory they have found and hopefully it’ll lead to destruction during the playoffs. Hopefully the lakers learn from all these ugly and heartbreaking losses and come playoff time play with energy and passion.

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  76. The “we’re not as good as our record” comments above are bogus. Did you watch the Boston or Cleveland games? This loss isn’t going to haunt us. Come June, we’re not going to stride into the Finals and remember this game. The pythagorean record is a stat. Nothing more.

    In any case, HCA is important, but it’s not the end of the world if we don’t get it. Cleveland still has to go through Boston or Orlando to get to us. And who is the only team who has beat Cleveland at home? Us. Out of the three elite teams in the East, we matchup best with Cleveland, about evenly with Boston, and worst with Orlando. Now, we’re not going to lose HCA to Boston unless we tank horribly for the rest of the season, so the worry here is entirely unjustified.

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  77. It seems wild and absurd.

    So what would measure how good we are. Our record against the top team as Brian just posted? Or maybe the win margin, or our NBA best road record (with the most back to backs), spectacular home record? Rebounding?

    What do you need? We are better than last year’s team that made the Finals. Take a look at the team we played in the Finals. Can they say the same thing? We’ve dealt with injuries like every other team, and look where we’re at.

    Loss #14 and the sky is falling in?

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  78. I did watch those games, the thing is there are a ton of other games to look at. We played well then, did not today.

    It is very possible that our team has an extreme issue with playing hard unless it is against a competitor, I was presenting an alternate idea, which people here have vehemently denied to have any truth to it.

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  79. Matt,

    Lamar Odom was quoted after the Blazer loss basically stating the same thing you just did.

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  80. Matt,

    Okay. So, let’s assume that is true, that “It is very possible that our team has an extreme issue with playing hard unless it is against a competitor.”

    You should have nothing to worry about then. All teams in the Playoffs are competitors, right? Problem solved.

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  81. Were you talkling to me, wondahbap, regarding the “sky is falling” comment? I don’t think I said that anywhere…If I did, I don’t actually think we are screwed and have no shot, just that our chance of winning a title is a bit less than what most Laker fans think.

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  82. No. It was a statement in general to everyone conceding HCA with this loss. Like it’s a foregone conclusion.

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  83. A loss like this doesn’t mean that the 76ers are better than us. It’s just a game that shows the lack of focus and is a result of having 82 games and then a 20+ games in the playoffs.

    Coach Jackson was talking about how we lost that killer instinct we started the season with. There are two reasons the Lakers jumped on teams and stepped on their necks.

    #1 It was the beginning of the season and we were out to prove that being in the finals was not a fluke and that they were making a statement to the whole league, which they accomplished.

    #2 We had Andrew freaking Bynum. That solidified our second unit with Lamar there. What you see now is a 2nd string that is the definition of hit or miss. When Bynum returns we have a post player to run the offense through and not settle for jumpers, especially when Pau is out. I’m not worried, because I know that the rotations will shorten and Bynum will be back.

    The only thing I hope we accomplish is finding that SG/SF that can close games. Whether it be Sasha, Ariza, or Walton.

    And of course for Farmar to get his groove back, because he’s the leader of the 2nd unit.

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  84. There’s no need for overreacting. But I disagree with the people who’re playing this off too coolly, like it’s just another loss. Look, it’s not this game itself that’s concerning. What’s worrying is that this team was playing much better earlier in the season, with more fire. We’ve lost that. There’s no denying that.

    Can we turn it back on before the playoffs? There’s a good chance we can. But there’s no guarantee. Many teams have peaked too early in the regular season and have been forgotten in the history books. Anyone who isn’t concerned after the recent stretch of play (not the losses themselves, but the lack of fire and the way we’ve been losing, along with crappy bench play) is either blissfully optimistic or mellowed out by some illegal substance.

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  85. The Dude Abides March 17, 2009 at 11:23 pm

    284. wondahbap, I’ve pretty much conceded HCA vs Cleveland because I’ve seen the remaining schedules of the two teams. I don’t see us going 15-0, or 14-1 at the worst, to be able to tie the Cavs and regain HCA.

    As I said before, it’s time to start cutting back on Pau’s minutes, and probably Kobe’s as well. Those two had no offseason to recharge their batteries after making it all the way to the Finals. I don’t believe our guys will need HCA to beat the Cavs if both teams make it all the way, and there’s no way any other team can catch us. Boston is too far behind us and too banged up, and I don’t see ORL playing perfect ball down the stretch, either.

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  86. The other thing many people seem to be forgetting – why are we assuming Bynum will come back and pick off right where he left off? I certainly hope and pray that he does. But how slowly did he start the season after his last injury? It took months to truly get back into rhythm. This injury is less severe and took a shorter period of time, but I can’t see Bynum sliding back into his old slot seamlessly. There’s no guarantee he’ll solidify our bench.

    And while I don’t have the stats, I think Sasha and Farmar were playing pretty poorly even with our full rotation. Our guard play needs to be shored up quickly.

    50 – That’s one of the best stats I’ve seen in a while. It might give us some solid ground for improving Sasha’s play. I’d like to see Sasha in the closing lineup again, like last year (with either Fish or Ariza depending on matchups). Maybe playing with the starters will free Sasha up.

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  87. Matt,
    You’re not the only one that feels this way. Tex Winter does too.

    The comments about home court confuse me though. We are the best road team in the league and I think we can win anywhere. We’ve proven as much. There are only 5 teams that we have played and not beaten in their gym: Sacramento, Orlando, Portland, Indy, and Utah. On our upcoming road trip, we’ll get our chances against Chi, Det, Mil, Char, Atl, and Jersey (and before the year is up we’ll get another shot at Port and Sacto). These games will determine if we really are the best road team, but with wins over Bost, Clev, SA, NO, Hou, Phoenix, and Denver, I’m pretty confident that we actually are a pretty good road team. Would HCA be nice? Of course. But I think of all the contenders, we’re the team that needs it the least (followed by Boston then SA then Cleveland).

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  88. Sorry, that should say 6 teams that we haven’t beaten on the road that we’ve played and should include Miami. I still stand by what I said though, especially since those road losses include games where we lost by 4, 3, 2, and 1 points against the Jazz, Magic, Heat, and Pacers respectively (but to be fair also include the blowout loss to Port and a double digit loss to Sac).

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  89. That picture of Kobe with Bill O’Reilly makes me want to puke. Kobe should have given him the Artest workdown.

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  90. Hahaha. Sorry Snoopy. That story was everywhere last week, but that was the first one I found and just linked to it there.

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  91. lol forgiven. Interesting link, though, I have a tremendous amount of respect for anything that comes out of Tex’s mouth. Phil Jackson’s a legend, but he owes so much of his success to Tex.

    Is Tex in the Hall of Fame yet?

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  92. To take my mind off this loss for a bit, I watched/skimmed the Orlando v. Cleveland game. Nobody in the east is going to beat the Cavs at home. I really think they are Finals bound.

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  93. What bothered me with tonights game were the turnovers and the team did not take over and control the game the way they should (killer instinct) have. Good point about HCA though, we are a good road team this year and as long as we never see Cleveland we will have it anyway, probably.

    “You are only a success at the moment that you do a successful act.” – Tex Winter

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  94. With luck, this is the best thing that could have happened…

    The Lakers have been playing with fire, and finally got burned.

    Maybe now they will play the whole 48 minutes, and just put teams away early, then keep the hammer down til the final buzzer.

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  95. Home court advantage in the finals format doesnt matter. 2-3-2 benefits the team with the 3 straight games at home. The Lakers are good enough to split the first two and then its 3 straight in LA.

    HCA in the west is all that matters, and thats locked up.

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  96. One thing that just kinda crossed my mind…

    Phil Jackson has always been a coach that used players to the best of their capabilities, with a great awareness of what players could and could not do and thus playing up to their strengths and using them in ways which they could be most successful.

    Now that being said, if we all realize that the bench is better at playing run and gun instead of a half-court triangle set, what’s the insistence on having them slow down and play in the half court? It’s fairly obvious at this point that they don’t really know how to get the offense running, even with Luke and Pau in the line-up with them. I bet they’d play better defense too if they figured more forced turnovers would lead to more easy offense.

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  97. I didn’t see the game, but I heard the full postgame on radio and read the almost 300 comments. In some ways these comments seem to reflect the worst of the Laker’s problems: lack of focus.

    I was hoping that the Lakers would win and the Cavs would lose. It was the opposite. Then there is the incessant Kobe/Lebron hype . . . .

    The games are played one at a time. We need to appreciate them one at a time. It is the unceretainty of the future that keeps everything interesting each night.

    The only thing that we know for sure is that the Lakers have clinched a spot in the playoffs already. That’s a far cry from “winning” the Western conference.

    The Cavaliers appear on a mission even stronger than last year’s Celtics, but they are not assured of winning even the first round of the Eastern Conference championships.

    The Lakers need to reestablish their “team” concept on both ends of the floor for 48 minutes–and show it for the next game. Everything else will take care of itself.

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  98. Gotta rep Muzik, Matt, & Snoopy here. How ridiculous does it have to get before people stop minimizing these performances? There are legitimate flaws here that doesn’t look like any champion I’ve seen. This ain’t the time to coast going into the playoffs. It’s time for everyone to pull their weight. It’s starting to resemble the 07 JV squad again.

    I haven’t thought this team was as good as its record since Dec for multiple reasons (that aren’t all about the Lakers). Anyway, it’s 4 weeks left. It’s past time to be concerned how they’re actually playing in games, not records.

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  99. This last home-stretch of games will be very interesting to see how the team responds to this loss. Phil’s postgame comments seemed to hint at the possibility of changes to the substitution patterns of the 2nd unit.

    I’m not too concerned with HCA in the Finals. The 2-3-2 format really puts a premium the home team protecting those first 2 games (or else possibly facing elimination on the away court), and we’ve proven that, thus far, we’re the best road team in the league. I’m more concerned with fine-tuning rotations, building confidence, and getting over whatever mental hump we have that prevents us from closing teams out as soon as we can. In other words, peaking for the playoffs instead of peaking for the regular season.

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  100. To follow up to my last comment, HCA would be great in that it gives us a crutch to lean on if we struggle on the road in the playoffs, as well as a psychological boost from accomplishing a goal that we set in training camp, but it’s certainly no determinant of anything. For everyone who keeps on citing the Celtics last year as evidence that HCA is the postseason panacea, go ask Dwyane Wade how he got his ring.

    I agree with drrayeye that reestablishing our focus and our team concept will be most important. Get that right, and everything will flow from there.

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  101. drrayeye,
    “The Lakers need to reestablish their “team” concept on both ends of the floor for 48 minutes–and show it for the next game. Everything else will take care of itself.”

    Definitely – unfortunately, there seems to be an attitude on the team that that can be turned on and off, and it’s not that easy, especially with a team that is still young and tends to lose focus. They need to develop those habit patterns.

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  102. drrayeye,
    I did watch the game and and a couple of facts are becoming clear.
    1) Kobe has more problems when long, athletic people guard him.
    2) Pau has more problems when athletic, defensive centers guard him.

    When both these situations occur we really need a 3rd scorer to open things up. We don’t have one until Andrew comes back.

    Lamar has repeatedly proven that he has the consistency of a bench player, although he has the talent of a superstar. We simply cannot pay this type of player $8-10M/yr and I expect him to be gone next year, unless he settles for closer to the midlevel exception.

    Trevor is really playing his first year in the triangle and his first year where he is being asked to be a long range bomber. We won’t really know about him until next year. Another gamble, along the lines of Sasha and Walton.

    Farmar is probably a bench player.

    We don’t know enough about Shannon Brown to even play him much.

    We better hope Andrew comes back on time, because it is becoming apparent to us fans that the Lakers have some real cracks. If this is true, you can be our opposing teams also know this. With Utah it really doesn’t matter – they can’t guard either Kobe or Pau – but others, like Boston, certainly can. There aren’t many teams that can take advantage of our combined weakness, but they are out there.

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  103. clutch824,

    I agree that there are some things to worry about in a loss like that, but am I ready to concede home court over it? No. It’s one game we have to make back. Not exactly an impossible task.

    yes, we have some issues, but so does every contending team. I’m not minimizing losses, but do not think our record is inflated. It’s easy for some folks to play the “this team was as good as its record” card after a loss like this, but what did they think of the team after our big wins? As recently as last week road back to back. All we know for sure is that our team isn’t invincible. That’s it. But we knew that from day one. Neither is Cleveland and neither is Boston.

    Did anyone think “this team was as good as its record” when we exposed weakness in the Cavs and Celtics? Did you think those teams weren’t as good after we beat them? They have bigger flaws then we do. Flaws that aren’t as easy to correct, or can’t be. Ours is focus. Theirs is personnel. But we we focused against SA and Houston? I’d say yes, so really, what was tonight? A bad loss, due to bad habits. When I see this team NOT SHOW up at all. I’ll be very concerned.

    Dude abides,

    Looking at Cleveland’s schedule, they have PLENTY of opportunities to lose a game. Wmight not go 15-0 or 14-1, but neither will they, and we only have to make up one game. WE have the tie breaker. Our road trip is not tougher than our last long Eastern swing, and remember we are the best road team in the NBA, the home games we have look good as well. Our toughest game should be in Portland.

    We will win homecourt.

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  104. I don’t understand why everyone is drawing the conclusion that HCA is lost.
    Cleveland has home games against POR, ATL, SA, and BOS. Away game at Orlando.
    We have home games vs. HOU, DEN, UTAH. Away game at POR.
    True, CLE has a great home record, but they are also not great against elite teams. I doubt the those 4 teams care Cleveland has only lost 1 at home.
    It’s still possible that CLE loses 3 games and we lose only 2.
    But I agree with the commenters above that we don’t need HCA against CLE, but we do need it against BOS, given Bynum is not back to full strength. If he is, HCA does not matter.

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  105. Grab your torch and pitchfork. Its time to riot in the streets.

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  106. 306. Because the Lakers fan base, as a whole, tends to react like lemmings.

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  107. It’s the LA in everyone; we tend towards the dramatic.

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  108. I have not had the opportunity to study lemming behavioral much, but what do lemmings act like? Do they get sad too when the Lakers lose or cuss “f*kn lakers loss” in disbelief every 3 hours or so?

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  109. After thinking about the game last night, a couple of points come to mind:

    *Kobe played limited minutes due to foul trouble and when he did play, it was below standard. He had a bad game. He made mistakes in the 4th quarter that I haven’t seen him make since…I can’t remember when. And we lost by 1 at the buzzer.

    *We had a below standard game in terms of turnovers. Not only did we turn the ball over more than normal, but we also didn’t force as many as normal. We went away from our strong side trap that produced TO’s in the first quarter and then we actually didn’t help on the dribble when we should have against a team that struggles making outside shots. And we lost by 1 at the buzzer.

    *We were +5 on the glass, +6 in assists, and shot a better FG%. We were relatively even in FT’s and in fouls committed. But the Sixers scored one more point than us by taking 12 more shots.

    All I’m saying is, we played a poor game and we lost. But it still took a last second shot to beat us. I think everyone gets upset about games like this because we can play better. We’ve seen it. We saw it last week. So, I don’t get how people think that we won’t play well again. Do we have flaws? Of course. But so does every other team in the league. I’ll happily take our flaws, with our players over those of other teams. Even if Bynum doesn’t come back as good as he was when he was injured. Does everyone else think we *won’t* play better than last night when the playoffs start?

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  110. 305 – wondahbab, see that’s what I’m saying. This isn’t just about last night. That game was a reflection of the entire season since Nov. Not just when we get up for teams like Boston & Cleveland. It’s about who the Lakers really are as a team. As a team, we’ve regressed instead of building on last season. Injuries & trades don’t explain that away. Kurt’s mantra post was right on time. Also, I don’t even care about HCA. You have to be able to win on the road, period.

    About the “not as good as the record” thing, I can understand not buying that. I admit it’s kind of cliche, but my point is the team has not played consistently like you’ve historically seen teams play when they have this kind of lead in their conf. I’ve tried not to get too caught up in their gaudy record all season. It became easier to do so starting in mid Dec. I watch these questionable performances where 4 or 5 guys don’t show up and Kobe and/or Pau have to save the team. Or Kobe misses 3, 4 terrible shots in a row and then makes a huge, contested dagger and pulls it out. Lousy defense in both cases. We’ve gotten away with a lot of games this year. I and others here notice that stuff and potential playoff opponents are banking on that for an upset.

    It’s debatable what teams have the bigger flaws or what those are. I wouldn’t place us as the best team at the moment. And I personally think the Cavs are fine and I don’t want to see them in a potential Finals.

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  111. 312. Clutch,
    If a one point loss, when we don’t play well is indicative of our season then I’m fine with that. You can claim that there have been many questionable performances that should have been losses only to have victory snatched back by Kobe or Pau. Okay, I see that. But we *have* Kobe and Pau. They’re on our team. If we didn’t have those guys, then I’d be more concerned. I’ve always taken a little bit of pride in winning games that we shouldn’t. Cleveland did that the other night against the Clips and no one is saying they’re not as good as their record. They did it earlier this season against the Warriors too. In fact, I’ve seen highlights of them winning at the buzzer or with comebacks in the fourth quarter that probably should have been losses and no one is saying that they’re not as good as their record. In fact, it’s the opposite. People say those performances show that they know how to win games. Why aren’t we the same? Against the Mavs, people point to the fact that we let the Mavs go on a huge run to take the lead. I counter with the fact that most teams don’t lose that lead and still come back to win. Most teams lose that game. We did not. In fact, this Philly game is one of the only games that we lost where they came back and we didn’t still pull it out. And it took a buzzer beater to make that happen. I’ll admit it’s not all roses and 1000 thread count sheets on my pillow top mattress, but it also isn’t all shanti-town at the Staples Center either.

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  112. Darius, first the “pillow top mattress” thing was nice. Second, it seems like you’re lumping me in with the idiots in sports media or casual fans. Don’t do that. Of course you’re right about the double standard. Musik’s “record” statement that I supported somewhat affects the other contender’s records as well. I don’t want to trail off into that.

    About everything else, bottom line you either think the way we’re playing now (and a lot of the season) is good enough or you don’t. If you don’t, you have to wonder when we’re going to play better. Some believe there’s a switch and once the playoffs starts it GO time. I don’t believe that and I’m wondering when are we going to start gelling for a championship run. Maybe when Bynum get back, maybe April 1, maybe Thurs night againt Golden State. Who knows?

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  113. Clutch,

    Every game the Cavs ave played this month has been close, except for 2. The loss to the KG less Celtics, and against Milwaukee.

    They aren’t playing as dominant as you would like to think. Will your mind change if Portland beats them?

    Why exactly are they better than us?

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  114. Clutch,
    I’m not trying to lump you in with those groups, and I apologize that it came off that way. However, your comment(s) are indicative of the idea that the team is somehow not playing well enough to win and you’re basing that off last nights loss and many other games where we’ve either lost or games where we won but did not play well. I feel that using that standard is unfair and that by using those games or the negative qualities exhibited in those games is truly pessimistic. It’s why I mentioned the mattress vs. a shanti. I can easily admit that we’re not playing our best. But not playing our best is not the same as playing bad. Especially when the level that is *not our best* is still better than most teams can muster on any given night. And knowing that we can play better (which is evidenced by us actually playing better) makes me believe that we actually will play better. I have faith in that. I don’t necessarily need to see that now (though it’d be nice) because I know that level exists. One last point-I’ve said this before, but it’s going to take a strong effort to win the title, from us or from any other contender. If Boston or Cleveland or Orlando or San Antonio or New Orleans expects to beat us by hoping that we don’t bring our ‘A’ game, their going to be sorry they were holding out for something that they can’t control.

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  115. wondahbab, I would say the Cavs are 1, we’re 2, Boston 3. That’s just a personal feeling. I like the cohesion the Cavs have with their roster. This garbage about LBJ not having help needs to stop. They have multiple people playing their roles very well, something we do not. If KG & Rondo wouldn’t have gotten hurt, I may have them as #2.

    Keep in mind, I base this on where I think the teams are, not how good they can be. I felt like everyone else after the Celtics game. That was the blueprint…

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