After 82 games, the playoffs are finally here. The grind of the regular season will soon be replaced with heightened intensity and focus of the post season (an environment the Lakers have done quite well in over the past few seasons). As we’ve done in past years we’ll have in depth previews on the Lakers’ series with the Hornets breaking down offensive and defensive tendencies while trying to get to the root of what needs to be done on both sides of the ball for the Lakers to advance. But that will wait until tomorrow.
Today, I look at the playoffs in general and what I’d like to see. Not only from the Lakers, but around the league as well. This is, by far, my favorite part of the season as there’s no longer room for lacksadaisical play with the promise of more time to figure it out. The playoffs are unforgiving and with a Laker team that’s trying for a 3rd straight title, I’d have it no other way. So take this as my pulling out a shiny Susan B. Anthony and flipping it into the wishing well…these are things I hope to see starting this weekend:
*Andrew Bynum as close to 100% as possible. Ditto for Matt Barnes. And while I’m at it, a speedy recovery for Steve Blake.
*Kobe Bryant refreshed mentally and physically, ready to push for championship #6.
*Chris Paul in all his brilliance…struggling to do damage in his bread and butter Pick & Roll.
*Top shelf defense from the Lakers. Big men contesting shots and finishing plays with defensive rebounds. Guards keeping ball handlers to one side of the floor. Expert level stuff, essentially.
*A 7 game slugfest between the Knicks and Celtics. Those are two franchises with a history (as Phil Jackson will tell you). I want to see a battle between those guys.
*A long series between Dallas and Portland.
*Pau Gasol: BlackSwan.
*Health for all players on all teams. I hate it when injuries affect the playoffs.
*At least one bicep kiss from Ron Artest. If it comes after a converted one-handed lay up, even better.
*Clean, crisp, Triangle execution.
*Lamar Odom going coast to coast and finishing with one of his classic swooping left hand bankers.
*Trey Johnson surprising us the way that Shannon Brown did in 2009.
*Charles Barkley being heckled by EJ and Kenny as he clings to the idea that Kobe has slowed down considerably.
*Derek Fisher coming up big again with a dagger three pointer down the stretch of a meaningful game.
*A Bulls/Celtics Eastern Conference Finals. Doc Rivers must see that defense and think he’s looking at his own team.
*A Lakers/Spurs Western Conference Finals. There’s no team I’d rather have to go through to reach the championship round.
*An NBA Finals with the Lakers in them.
*Phil Jackson getting that 4th three-peat in his last stand with a parade down Figueroa as the crown jewel of his illustrious career.