Most of the Lakers key players are rested. Kobe, Andrew, Pau, and Matt Barnes haven’t played in a week. Nicks and bruises are completely (or nearly completely, in Barnes’ case) healed. Mentally, the team should be refreshed as well.
And really, this is what matters. The Lakers played a particularly grueling season (as did every other team, I know) for the chance to be right where they are – back in the playoffs and ready to make another run. The fact that last year’s run was cut brutally short should be fresh on their minds. Denver is not Dallas (who the revenge seekers most want), but they’re the team that stands in the way right now and is the team that must be beaten.
Of course, it won’t be easy. The Lakers, over the course of the year, have had one of the smallest margins of victory of any playoff team. The Nuggets are better in that regard, but not by a great deal. Both teams are very good at home and winning the games on that familiar turf will be very important in this series. I expect close, hard fought games with the winner having to earn those W’s down the stretch with tough defense and timely shot making.
Will the Lakers be ready? Will the Nuggets?
The playoffs are a time where match ups rule. Can you guard my big man? Can we guard their point guard? Whose head coach will make the adjustments in game; over the course of the series?
The answers to these questions – and countless others – begin today. To be completely honest, I’ve been anxious and excited since yesterday. Watching those other teams do battle rekindled that feeling that only comes with this time of the year. The playoffs are here. And whether you’re Kobe Bryant making his 15th appearance or Ramon Sessions making his 1st, the feeling is the same. It’s time for the games of the players to be collectively raised.
On one final note, the journey to get to this point was tumultuous. Injuries, trades made and not made, a new coach, and a schedule as wild as all those events combined. But now that we’re here, the real journey begins. The ride promises to be bumpy; every run is. But, I remind you all to enjoy it as much as you can. Nothing is guaranteed but that’s what makes it exciting. I know I’m ready. Who’s with me?