Fast Break Thoughts…

Darius Soriano —  May 21, 2010

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With a few days off in between games, we’re taking a look around the league and passing along some links to.  Happy Friday.

*As we all know the Lakers are on an 8 game winning streak.  That led me to start thinking about streaks and many have also started to compare this Lakers team to the 2001 team that battled injuries throughout the season and then dominated the playoffs on the way to their 2nd consecutive title.  For me, it’s a bit early for those comparisons, but if the Lakers win the title this year and do so in a convincing manner, I think those comparisons will be apt.  But we’re a ways off from that point and there is still much work to be done.  So, let’s hold off on looking at all time comparisons and focus on the moment, shall we?

*Speaking of the task at hand (Phoenix), the focus in this series has been the Suns defense (or lack there of) and how the Lakers offense has been abusing their schemes.  However, the Lakers offense has actually been on a roll for longer than the last two games and their performance on O has been a major factor of the current 8 game winning streak.  During this recent run of wins, only once have the Lakers scored below 100 points (game 6 vs. OKC) and they have only shot below 50% from the field three times.  During the streak the Lakers have had an offensive efficiency of 119.5 on 60.2% true shooting, compared to a 105.9 mark on 53.8% true shooting during the regular season (per hoopdata).  Those are major steps up in efficiency of late and it’s not all related to facing the Suns.

*I try not to concern myself too much with the things that are said about Phil Jackson’s future with the Lakers.  There are just too many angles to sort out and Phil’s comments to the media on the subject are cryptic at best.  Deciphering what is said and why rarely leads to anything concrete, so I choose not to get caught up in it.  That said, with the recent reports that Phil will be asked to take a pay cut next season, J.A. Adande is wondering if history is going to repeat itself with Jackson and Buss.  Again, this is just more speculation, but I do think this is something to keep in the back of the mind.

*Speaking of coaches, it looks like Philly has a new one.  Welcome back to the sidelines Doug Collins.  I’m going to miss Collins on the TNT broadcasts, but I think he’ll do a good job with the Sixers (getting Evan Turner with the #2 pick won’t hurt either).

*A lot of fans from both teams are starting to look forward to a Lakers/Celtics Finals match up and with both teams having a 2-0 lead in the conference finals, I understand that.  However, understand that both series are far from over despite the stinging nature of both teams first two wins (Lakers blowouts and Celtic road wins).  From the Celtics standpoint, they still have to win their home games – something that is not a given.  Boston went 24-17 at home this regular season (they actually had a better road record) and will need to continue their strong play now that they’re back in their own arena. (hat tip to TrueHoop.)

*When the Lakers acquired Ron Artest there were a variety of thoughts on everyone’s mind.  Some folks are still waiting for what they believe is the inevitable “blow up” from Ron-Ron.  However, Ron’s been mild-mannered and distraction free for nearly the entire season.  I bring this up because there’s an interesting piece on Ron Artest that deserves a read over at ‘Pop Matters’.  An excerpt: “For, much in the same way that Flavor Flav (who also went on to tabloid infamy) projected the persona of a jester to undercut the stern and booming condemnation of Chuck D. in order to make Public Enemy a more palatable, consumable music act, it seems that Artest has mixed enough zaniness into his persona to escape, for the time being, the more menacing image of his past. Such manipulation, whether it indicates a true “con” of the public or not, is not a fine science. It represents instead a sort of alchemy, combining stereotypes, personal background, the randomness of circumstance, and the all-powerful gaze of the sports media.”

*I love classic videos of old school players.  I can’t get enough old highlights or interviews with legends past just to get more insight from other eras.  So, on that note, go check out this classic sit down of Bill Russell interviewing Kareem, Magic, and Silk from 1980 (hat tip to Shoals at FreeDarko).

*And speaking of video’s LD2K is at it again.  After giving us some viewing pleasure in the lead up to the WCF, his latest concoction is an answer to the critics of Kobe Bryant.  Enjoy.

*Lastly, a lot has been made of the “lucky” comments that Amar’e made about Lamar Odom.  Kevin Ding has a great piece up on Odom that deserves your time. (hat tip to commenter Bynumite.)


Darius Soriano

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19 responses to Fast Break Thoughts…

  1. I’ll miss Collins. He may not have been the best and he may have alluded to his days with Jordan 3-4 times too many per game when covering our Lakers, but he always had a sense for the tempo of the game.

    As for Phoenix “preparing” us for Boston, I don’t really think this matters. Phoenix pushes the tempo, which gets our transition D, but they aren’t anywhere near as physical. That said, our guys will know what to expect and can simply watch game 6 of the 2008 Finals as a way to remind them of what needs to be done.

  2. Interesting exchange during David Thorpe’s chat a couple days ago:

    Ben (Austin, TX): If Lakers AND Celtics both reach the finals – can we officially put to rest the “you can’t just turn it on” theory for talented teams?

    Thorpe: Excellent point. The better axiom is “you can’t expect to just turn it on”. Because it does not always happen.

  3. I’m just curious as to why my comment in the previous thread got moderated (deleted).

    All I said was that I hope you didn’t jinx the lakers by bringing up that championship team and alluded to the fact that Bsoton defensive stats this year are eerily similar to their ’08 stats. I wondered in that comment if the Lakers had conquered their demons from a couple of years ago and hoped phx hadn’t made them soft.

    Any reason in particular?

  4. #3. gxs,
    I’m not sure what happened to your comment. I apologize if it was deleted and it shouldn’t have been. I don’t recall moderating the comment in any way but that doesn’t mean I didn’t do something by mistake.

    Base off what you’ve said, I don’t see why the comment would be deleted. Again, my apologies.

  5. offensively the lakers are money in the bank if artest can shoot around 45% and Kobe continues to gets rest between series and games. I don’t think even the awesome celtics D can stop a lakers offense that literally has 6 guys that can get you 25 on any given night.

  6. mikeinchitown May 21, 2010 at 11:47 am

    mitch kupchak sighting in chicago- i took a photo w/him at lunch just now.

    told him we need to find a good PG- he just smiled.

  7. Natalia,
    In the interest of curiosity I was wondering who that 6th player on the Lakers is who can score 25 points. Kobe, Gasol, Bynum, and Artest all have been big time scorers in the league recently. And I will even say Lamar is capable of putting up some big scoring games, but I can’t think of the 6th guy you are talking about. The next guy on the Lakers in points per min is Jordan Farmar I believe and I wouldn’t be too comfortable if I had to rely on him to generate points. But the Lakers sure do have 5 guys who can get the ball into the basket. The last team who had a 5th guy the caliber of Lamar Odom was probably the 80’s Lakers. This squad is loaded with talent.

  8. REPOST:
    question about taking charges:
    does the defender have to fall in order for a charge tto be called? In the game vs. the Cavs, Shaq took 3-5 charges from Kobe, but there was a no-call each time, cuz Shaq barely moved. Is that why there is a no-call?

  9. Kenny,
    I’m pretty sure that technically the defender does not have to fall, but in practice if you don’t go to the ground you are never going to get a charge call.

  10. Sure it is too early to compare this team to ’01 juggernaut or even ’89, which was 12-0 before getting swept by Detroit Pistons because of injuries to our starting backcourt. However, the ceiling for this talented squad was higher than the 3peat squad from the early 2000’s, and here’s why.

    Shaq-Kobe led team was dominant because of Shaq’s physical dominance and Kobe’s athleticism. That team’s strength was the veteran role player’s tough minded defense as well as clutch shooting. This Laker team’s dominance comes from incredible skill level on both sides by top 5 players-Kobe, Pau, LO, Artest, Bynum (Yes, Bynum). Bynum isn’t as skilled, but his post move is way better than DHoward, and his defense and rebounding is quite good when he’s healthy and motivated. So is 2 incredibly dominant players better than 5 great players? I don’t know, but I like current Kobe more than 2000 Kobe. I wouldn’t take Pau/Bynum/LO combo over Shaq/Horry/Green-HoGrant. Definitely Artest is better than Rick Fox.

    I’m not trying to say that this Laker squad is necesarily better than that 2000 team. I’m merely pointing out that it is comparable talent wise. Accomplishment wise, they still have two championships to go, but they would be playing for the third, had they beat the Celtics two years ago.

    Anyway, we, Laker fans, are truly “lucky” to be able to root for a team like this because it doesn’t come along very often, at least not for the other teams. And they seem motivated this year fueled by revenge factor and having learned the lesson of danger of complacency in OKC series.

    Game 3 will really show how much they have learned. If they come out and squeak out a win, we know that the team’s dominance isn’t based on other team’s performance, but it’s based on it’s own-that tells you how truly dominant a team is.

    I believe this team can be as dominant as they want to be…

  11. Were any Laker fans actually worried about an Artest “blowup”? I always assumed that storyline was being driven by Bill Simmons and others pooping their pants over the prospect of the Lakers finally having a good option to defend Lebron/Pierce.

  12. Darius,

    I was wondering if you could implement a commenting system where there could be threaded conversations, and you could get email notifications when someone replies to your comment specifically and not have your inbox flooded w/ unrelated posts if you check ‘notify me of folloup comments via email’ option. That way you don’t have to keep loading the whole site just to check. Kind of like engadget.com

  13. LA is on Bosh’s radar. I wonder if the feeling is mutual?

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=5208043

    Chicago and NY fans must be intoxicated by the thought of LBJ & CB4 playing the 4 and the 5, respectively, under D’Antoni.

  14. Although the Celtics D has been close to that of the 2008 finals, our D has by FAR NOT been anywhere near the type of D we were playing two years ago. Mitch Kupchak has made a concerted effort to bring defense into the forefront of the team, bringing Ron Artest in in order to bring that caliber and swag. The Celtics can be the Celtics of 2008, but they surely will have a much tougher time beating the Lakers of 2010…

  15. While a LA-Boston series will certainly be entertaining and hard fought, I simply cannot see the Celts offense generating much success vs. the Lakers D. I say this in light of what the Lakers D has been able to do vs. the Suns offense, arguably one of the best in the league.
    That being said, LA’s offense will be hard pressed to get the kind of production vs. the Celts D that they have been getting vs. the Suns D (if you want to say that the Suns actually play D).
    Overall, my crystal ball shows the Lakers D giving big headaches to the Celts O, while the Lakers O gives equally big headaches to the Celts D.
    I know, the Lakers have won 2 games so far and I’m talking like the Lakers-Suns series is already over. In my mind, barring injury and for all intents and purposes, it is over. And I believe the same thing about the Celtics-Magic series.

  16. #12. Don,
    A while back, Kurt took a poll on what style of commenting readers wanted and I think most said that they liked the current style. I’ll consider what you’re saying though. In the end, my goal is to just keep the discussion at a high level so I try to look at this from all the angles.

  17. I see its all good not a big deal either way

  18. Anyone had their fill of all the free agent speculation already?

    I was really disappointed to see the Bosh – Laker stuff today. I wish the focus would just remain on the team trying to win a championship.