Familiar Foes

Darius Soriano —  January 26, 2011

It’s been said that familarity breeds contempt.

In personal relationships this idiom is often used to explain how people grow tired of/lose respect for those that they live with and/or work. How those every day interactions lead to getting too familiar with a person’s faults or those traits that ultimately become annoying.

However, when applying this to basketball I often think of a different type of contempt – the kind that leads wanting to demolish those foes that you’ve gone to battle against countless times year after year. I also think of the confidence that comes from the results of those match ups and started to think about the Lakers.

Ultimately, this led me to look at the Lakers schedule and examine their recent results with one eye, while looking to their future games with the other. What I found is that the Lakers have actually been quite good at vanquishing familiar foes and/or seeking revenge against those teams that have defeated them at earlier points in the season.

Take for example the Utah Jazz in last night’s game. The Lakers have faced the Jazz countless times over the years (after all, they play in the same conference and face off at least 3 times each regular season). But beyond the matchups in regular season, these teams have also matched up in the last 3 playoffs. Each time the Lakers have laid them to waste and each time their confidence grew (in successive years, the Lakers dispatched them in less games than the playoffs prior – needing 6 games in ’08, 5 in ’09, and sweeping last spring). Plus, when looking to earlier this season, the Jazz are a team that has handed the Lakers one of their 13 losses. Surely that defeat was also on the mind of the Lakers as they downed the Jazz last night.

Keeping with the theme of in-season redemption, there have been other examples of the Lakers seeking revenge against those teams that have beaten them earlier the current campaign. When the Lakers played the Pacers for the 2nd time this year, they clearly wanted payback (and delivered it handily). After losing to the Suns and Nuggets in back to back contests in early November, the Lakers handed them defeats in rematches this month with the most recent Denver game fresh on all our minds (those teams also fall into the playoff foe category as they’ve both been post-season opponents in the past several years).  We’ll see if this trend continues when the Lakers face the Spurs next week and the Mavs in March. Will the want of revenge play a part in those games? (I think it will.)

This concept does go both ways, though. The Bulls, Bucks, Clippers, and Grizzlies all fell to  the Lakers before taking revenge in their next match ups with the defending champs.

And the greatest of all motivation (a Finals defeat) will surely be on the mind of the Celtics when they vist Staples on Sunday. These teams certainly have a historical rivalry that pushes these games to another level, but the recent match ups and familiarity of the teams will also play its part in ratcheting up the contempt and the desire to win these contests.

I bring all this up because here at FB&G we consistently focus on the X’s and O’s and what schematic adjustments will be needed in order to claim a win. But coaches will often turn to motivational tactics beyond what can be drawn up on a greaseboard to prepare them to play a particular opponent. Especially when the foe in the other jersey is a familiar one.

Darius Soriano

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23 responses to Familiar Foes

  1. I’m glad to see that Perkins is back and playing for Boston. Hopefully they can bring in as healthy a squad as they can to Staples this weekend because I’d love to see how the Lakers match up. Or shall I say, how they match up to us – we are the champs after all.

    Does anyone know if Shaq is going to suit up? The combination of Shaq and the Celtics should prove to be rather volatile. I’ve been to one of the Lakers/Heat Xmas games with Shaq and he wasn’t well received, I can only imagine what Sunday will be like if/when he checks into the game.

  2. Indeed, does anyone know exactly what is Shaq’s absentee percentage for games played at Staples? It seems to be he’s missed something like 2/3rds of the games due to more or less bogus injuries.

  3. Interesting post by Kurt:

    http://probasketballtalk.nbcsports.com/2011/01/26/sorry-new-york-but-stoudemire-is-no-mvp-rose-either/

    Who do you guys think is the MVP for this season?

    I think its bogus but Kobe should have one in 06 but they gave it to nash so they gave it to kobe in 08 some argue that CP3 should have one it in 08 so why not give it to him this year? He has my vote

  4. Nice article. This is what I have actually meant in one of my comments in the preview of lakers@nuggets game. The lakers take pride in their game and those teams who have given them their loss will see a diff. Laker team when they face again. An example of this is the Indiana Pacers, Denver Nuggets and now Utah Jazz. Cant wait till the lakers give a beating to the Spurs and the Mavericks.

  5. It’ll be fun to see Artest work over Pierce on Sunday.

  6. Great thoughts Darius.

    But the Lakers should have a lot of resentment left over from the absolutely embarrassing way they lost in ’08 and Ray Allen’s comments at the ESPY’s (I believe it was the ESPY’s, with Derek Fisher looking on stoned-faced) Winning it all in ’10 is not enough for me, since we barely pulled that one off, and it shouldn’t be enough for the Lakers. I want them to hate green for the rest of their Laker careers.

  7. Next week’s games against the Green Meanies from Beantown and the Milk N’ Cookies Gang (aka the Spurs) will be a nice barometer. For all of the questions about our Lakers, we are still sitting pretty and can remind the league that the road to the rings still runs through Staples with a pair of wins on our court against the two teams with better records (but not better teams). Take it one game at a time, but let’s take these teams to the woodshed for an old-fashioned beatdown.

  8. The Stoudemire MVP talk is ridiculous, same stuff that makes everyone in the New York/New Jersey area believe Derek Jeter is the greatest shortstop ever and Michael Strahan belongs in Canton someday.

    It’s part of the hubris that comes from living in that part of the world. Too many TV stations and too many papers, all telling the same stories about the same people day in and out. Plus the city’s national media power then takes the propaganda and disperses it all over the rest of the country, further fueling the fire and hype.

    Spend any time there and you begin to forget there’s a whole big country west of the Hudson River — and I say this as someone who absolutely loves NYC.

    Still, I’ll take New York fans over Boston fans any day of the week.

  9. 5)
    You know me… Im an Artest lover. But just think back to the 08 Finals when Pierce blew by VadRad and Walton and then muscled his way through Kobe. So for me its always a beautiful site to see Artest destroy PP. And then you throw in the fact that Artest was the best player on the court in Game 7? Fisher gets a lot of desserved credit for the last 6 minutes of Game 3, how does Artest not get a parade every week for being the MVP of Game 7? How fans forget so quickly. Sure Artest doesn’t get the ball enough to be the offensive force he has been on every other team… but it wasn’t that long ago we were starting Luke Walton or VladRad at SF!!!! Even Trevor Ariza was a giant liability one on one against SF’s with any size.

  10. Observation of the day: Flipping through the NBA games on League Pass on a day off, I’ve decided Jordan Farmar and George Karl are related somehow. The proof lies in the ears!

  11. Kobe repeatedly says that he could play in Jazz uniform and not miss a beat, and I really believe him, since he’s been playing against the same Jazz system his entire career, which isn’t short. Fisher actually played for them and god knows that Sloan’s system didn’t change much since. Phil Jackson has seen the Jazz a few times in the finals, and a few times since, so he’s probably a bit familiar with the Jazz as well ;)

    But then again, Jazz are and were never a team that surprises you, but rather really tires you with their methodical and physical approach. Problem is, of course, that if the players are out of it, their system loses its best weapon – execution – and ends up being a very very familiar system that is too predictable.

    As for the MVP and other discussions, maybe we should set something to stone and start setting minimum requirements, such as ‘MVP’s team has to be at least the best team in its conference,’ ‘MVP candidate must be at least a top 3 player in either scoring, assists, or rebounds,’ and ‘MVP must have played in at least 90% of the games that season.’

    The criteria need not be the ones mentioned, but I think there should be at least a minimum that candidates must clear before being able to join the discussion.

  12. My seat partner and I like to abuse the Celtics pretty hard. He has cooked up some special signs for them on Sunday, plus he’ll be dressed in vintage Kurt Rambis style. Look six rows behind the west basket … should be pretty funny. (Yeah, we’re not typical lower bowl fans)

  13. 8 – You guys are the kinds of fans we need more of in the lower level. My personal request is you and your partner do all you can to give the C’s hell on Sunday. Hopefully the Lakers will match you on the court.

  14. Aaron @ 9 – Artest isn’t VladRad that’s for sure. He made sure to remind Pierce of this by roughing him up in the opening seconds of Game 1 and again in Game 7. Pierce looked like an idiot with that stupid green headband knocked askew and covering his eyes!

  15. Pierce looks like an idiot 24/7.

  16. My roommate is a C’s fan, and all I have heard the last two weeks from him is about this game, in addition that they will get revenge Sunday on us for a Finals that they should have won last year. I am just so tired of their fans, and I have to live with one, ugh… To me this game is way more than just 1 of 82, the Lakers have to take them down hard, or I will be hearing about it for months.

  17. Speaking of revenge – I’m looking forward to March 10th when they get the opportunity to go into Miami and try to steal back some respect.

  18. Requiring the MVP to come from a team leading their conference is a really bogus requirement.

    MVP means Most Valuable Player – no more added words. The team requirements was how the media ‘talking heads’ excused themselves when they voted Steve Nash the honor in 2006 over Kobe.

    There have been many players with spectacular years in the past and some of them have even been on losing teams – how about Wilt Chamberlain or Kareem Abdul Jabbar?

    To imply this is a team honor simply ignores the purpose of the award – and I am a person who places no particular value on the award because of who votes on it.

  19. I’m all about getting hyped for the Celtics game, but I don’t want to lose to SAC in the meantime. I think it’s pretty clear that the Spurs are not going to do us any favors in the standings, so we need to buckle down and shoot for the stars in terms of HCA. I still think that’s important.

    Any chance these Spurs are like the 2007 Mavs, who ran away with HCA but got ousted in Round One by the Warriors in (then) shocking fashion?! Sigh.

    RE: MVP. Like many other NBA awards, it’s a a joke.

  20. Craig W., can a player be valuable if you’re not winning? That’s why I don’t have much against that criteria. How much winning is enough? That’s something else, of course.

    Honestly though as it stands, MVP is just like the all-star team : a popularity contest. Except writers get to sell different spins every year so that they can get readers to comment on them.

    And I’m not sure if that’s necessarily a bad thing except that writers also seem to rank players by the number of MVP awards a player has received. Now that’s why I want some consistency, unless every writer acknowledges the all-star team selections and MVP awards as what they are.

  21. Finals MVP is the only MVP that matters in the NBA.

  22. Jane, if the Hornets get the #8 seed (possible), we might just see that. Keeping my fingers crossed/