The regular season is no more. And sure, fans, media, even the players and coaches aren’t thrilled with how the season transpired (and especially with how it ended). But, with where we stand now that doesn’t really matter. I believe there is an old saying about water under bridges and another about spilled milk that apply right now. So, with the second season only days away, I’d like to see a few things…
*A healthy Andrew Bynum.
*A revived Kobe Bryant.
*Strong defense buoyed by our twin seven footers and Artest leaning on wing players to the point that they make catches 30 feet from the basket.
*A frustrated Russ Westbrook not being able to crack the code of a playoff defense.
*Long playoff series between the Celts/Heat and ‘Blazers/Suns.
*More twitter wars between the players. You know, stuff like this. That Nuggets/Jazz series is going to be a war.
*Some made three pointers. Any Laker or two will do, I’m not that picky.
*Good ball movement from smart passes. Hard screens that lead to off the ball player movement. You know, Triangle execution.
*George Karl pacing the sidelines for the Nuggets.
*Our favorite foes in ‘Gone Fishin’ pictures with EJ, Chuck, and Kenny.
*Joakim Noah and Lebron James face to face.
*The Spurs. As long as the red-hot version of Manu doesn’t show up. If he’s there, umm…forget I said anything at all.
*One last hurrah from our man D-Fish. I think he’s got one more post season of big shots in him.
*The media forced to slowly change it’s tune on the vulnerability of the Lakers.
*A bunch of promos for ‘Saving Grace’ and ‘The Closer’. Oh sorry, wrong list.
*Smart analysis from the TV guys. (A guy can dream right?)
*Pau’s jumper remaining as silky as it has for the past few weeks.
*An Eastern Conference Finals between the Cavs and Magic. Those guys have unsettled business.
*An entertaining Finals that features the Lakers.
*A parade down Figueroa and a shiny new Larry O’Brien Trophy for everyone to spill champagne on.
Hillary Ocholla says
*A parade down Figueroa* that would be amazing.
I’m gonna have to watch last season’s championship DVD one more time before the Lakers tip off their game on Sunday.
seems like a good list darius.
– i´d like to see us sweep okc (rookie coach, young team, no inside scorers, and westbrook has somewhat hit a wall over the past few weeks) and rest our guys a little bit
– i´d like our players to match kobe´s intensity and not pass him the ball on every posession
– i´d like to see andrew return and force lamar to come of the bench and score, not just settle for running the offense and making nice passes (thats what we have luke for)
if we are lucky enough to see that happen, things look pretty good for us.
ah, one last thing:
since pau is our only healthy starter, this might be his best opportunity for him to show just how amazing he is. i know, he has carried us through the whole year, but now he can show it on the big stage. i believe he will
I’m with you darius but why would you want a long playoff series between celtics and heat. For the entertainment? The longer that playoff series is, the more rest the Cavs will get. And I hope for a long playoff series between Nuggs and Jazz so lakers can get a rest.
Playoffs start this Saturday and Lakers play early Sunday. I can’t wait.
I love the fight between Phil and Durant:
“I don’t disrespect nobody in this league,” Durant said, according to the report. “I respect every coach, every player, everybody. I never say anything bad about anybody else or question why they do this or do that. So for them to say that about me, I don’t even want to use no foul language.”
Go Texas education!
Here’s a few more…
Artest converting a dunk.
An angry Lamar.
A happy Sasha.
Farmar providing a spark.
Bynum’s presence with no limitations.
Kobe averaging 10.3 free throws.
P. Ami says
*No series decided by injuries
2 from the following list getting hot from the 3 and no one struggling worse then in the regular season (I think we NEED 2 players), Fish, LO, Ron, Farmar and Wow (Sasha would have made the list).
(Copied from the another thread) The playoffs are all about matchups. In some cases, teams are evenly matched, but in most cases there is a matchup advantage to exploit and the winning team is usually on the positive side of that matchup advantage.
In most series, the Lakers walk in with a matchup advantage simply, because they have Gasol, Bynum, and Odom in the front court. Ask any scout in the NBA: that’s why the Lakers are the most feared (not necessarily Kobe). Over a seven game series, you are forced to matchup with that insane front court – and bigs are a lot harder to guard that wings and guards.
In order to matchup with the Lakers you either have to have excellent defensive bigs, or potent offensive bigs (or maybe both).
That’s why the Celtics beat LA in 2008 – the Gasol/Odom duo tore through the West, but once they went up against the excellent defensive duo of KG/Perkins, they were in trouble.
Let’s look at the possibilities LA faces:
Let’s face it, OKC has maybe the worst front court of any playoff team in the West. Seriously. Jeff Green is a small forward masquerading as a power forward. All the Lakers have to do to win this series is pound it inside for 4 games and let OKC take all the outside jumpers it wants. Seriously. Strategically, there is no way Kobe should be taking 25 shots a game against OKC. Feed Gasol and Bynum early and often and OKC goes down with a whimper.
This is were Hollinger is nuts: there is a reason why the Lakers have beaten the Jazz just about every time they’ve faced them over the past two years (even when LA was slumping, they beat the Jazz). Gasol is kryptonite to Boozer with his long arms on both offense and defense. Okur is a soft big in cememt shoes who can’t stay with Bynum from a strength standpoint and can’t stay with Odom from a speed standpoint.
To make matters worse, Utah doesn’t have anyone who can really guard Kobe. Utah is a very good team, but LA exploits all of their weaknesses. I’m not saying LA sweeps Utah (Utah is still a very good team), but they were probably win in 6.
Denver, on the other hand…that’s a toss-up. Denver can throw K-Mart, Nene, and Birdman at the Laker’s front court – all there are EXCELLENT defensive bigs. That’s why the Lakers have so much trouble with Denver. Add to that a wing defender (Afflalo) who can slow down Kobe? That’s a hard, hard matchup.
Notice with OKC, Utah, & Denver I don’t mention the point guard matchup…in most cases, a point guard isn’t going to win a series…it’s easier to device a strategy for controlling a point guard. A point guard like Billups or D-Will can win A GAME if they get hot from three (as Billups did during the regular season), but it’s not going to happen over a series (usually).
If the Lakers get Utah in the second round, they make the WCF.
If they face Denver (and Denver has K-Mart available)….it’s a toss up.
As for the WCF:
Portland won’t make it – too many injuries.
The Spurs could make it, and they’re an interesting team because they’re the only team that is a bad matchup for the Lakers…but the Lakers are also a bad matchup for them. The Spurs only have Duncan to throw at Gasol, Bynum, and Odom, but the Spurs also have a group of guards and wings that are a terrible matchup for LA. So ultimately, it’s a close series, that honestly, comes down to three point shooting. If the Spurs can knock down threes with regularity…they win the series. If they can’t, they don’t.
Dallas has recently become a better matchup for LA since they acquired Haywood, so now they have Haywood and Dampier to throw at the Laker’s front court…but Haywood is the only quality defender. The problem with Dallas is:
1) They still don’t have a defender that can guard Kobe.
2) They can’t fully exploit the Lakers biggest weakness (PG), because JKidd isn’t a scorer.
I still think the Lakers have the upper hand in that series, but depending on the how the Laker’s bigs do, Dallas could win.
As for Phoenix, the Lakers are another bad matchup for them. You beat Phoenix by:
A) Chasing them off the three point line.
B) Forcing them to defend inside.
The Lakers KILL Phoenix with “B”…and they’ve shown they’re capable of A.
Phoenix doesn’t have anyone who can guard Kobe, Gasol, Odom, OR Bynum (unless Robin Lopez comes back).
So to Summarize the West:
OKC: LA definitely beats them.
UTAH: LA definitely beats them.
DENVER: Toss-Up if K-Mart plays, probably beats them if he doesn’t.
SPURS: LA probably beats them unless Ginobili catches fire.
DALLAS: LA probably beats them unless Gasol has a bad series.
PHOENIX: LA definitely beats them.
So the ideal (and actually totally realistic) scenario is this for the West:
1st Round: OKC
2nd Round: Utah
3rd Round: Phoenix
I think the Lakers make the finals in that scenario.
They probably do if they face Dallas in the third round…or the Spurs.
Denver is the wild card.
AS FOR THE FINALS…that’s where the Lakers are in Big, BIG trouble.
The Lakers are still a bad matchup for Orlando (bc they have no one to guard Kobe and Rashard Lewis has to guard Gasol or Odom), but Orlando will be playing with a healthy Jameer Nelson (the Alston for Nelson swap in the Finals was a huge advantage for LA) and will be playing with vengeance on their minds. If the Lakers face Orlando, there’s a good chance they lose…but they would have a shot.
If the Lakers face Cleveland, forget about.
They have three long bigs (Shaq, Varajao, and Z) to throw at our front court, they have a scoring point guard to abuse Fish, and they have LeBron. The only advantages the Lakers have are Kobe and Odom. For the Lakers to win that series both Kobe (he of the broken finger and bum knee) and Odom (he of the injured shooting shoulder) have to play OUT OF THEIR MINDS.
I just don’t see it happening.
My honest prediction is the Lakers make the Finals and lose to Cleveland.
But I hope I’m wrong.
*A fight. Not like an Auburn Hills brawl, but like a Ron/Kobe elbows and trash talk from last season fight.
Could it be that LO & Ariza’s 3pt percentages skyrocketed because Kobe stepped up his attack that much more in the offseason, causing defenses to collapse harder or double team sooner?
Which may say something if Kobe cannot be as aggressive.
*A Pau game winner
If, and that’s a big if, this flawed Lakers team wins the championship on the back of Kobe Bryant, then I think we can honestly begin the Jordan/Kobe debate without sounding like homers…
I want a tough Pau, one that goes to the rim with force and stop trying to layup and one that’s aggressive on defense.
I want the Kobe that takes over games and makes good decisions not the one that forces up bad shot after bad shot.
A defensive menace in Ron Artest.
A healthy Bynum and to exploit the mismatches that Odom seems to have a lot of.
Most importantly a bench that does not jack up 3 ball after 3ball after 3ball, they need to run the offense.
It’s gonna be a tough road ahead but I am looking forward to the playoffs, GO LAKERS!!!
lil' pau says
any sasha news? what is the current status?
Amen to that brother!
*Fisher playing within himself and making those 3 bombs as close to circa 2001.
Your best post of the season and maybe the best post ever on this site. You just took down trodden Laker fans and got them positively optimistic about the next 2 months of Lakers basketball without them even knowing that was your intention. And Laker fans should be optimistic. Our team has the most talent in the league and the best coach in the world. Our team has two all star quality 7 footers and an all world talent coming off the bench. Our team has the 2nd best SG to ever touch a basketball and one of the most menacing perimeter one on one defender the league has ever seen. Yeah… you could say we should be a little optimistic.
“*The media forced to slowly change it’s tune on the vulnerability of the Lakers.”
That was great Darius. I remember last year how the media started out saying the Lakers couldn’t be beat, then they struggled against the Rockets and the media said the Lakers had no chance. They have no ability to step outside today to see tomorrow. After the Lakers smoke OKC they will soon predict LA will roll through the playoffs again. Like one series has anything to do with the next. Like the last 10 games of the regular season has anything to do with the playoffs.
One series at a time… and right now OKC isn’t going to beat the Lakers..
Very encouraging post.
Meanwhile, Phil gets fined $35k by the league for publicaly criticizing refs…again. It’s getting comical at this point. And hey, who couldn’t use a good laugh heading into what will be a tough post-season journey, right?
Defense, Defense, Defense. That’s what I want to see. If we can play tough on the defensive end throughout the playoffs, then I think we will continue to advance.
I thought about Phil’s comments and a lot has been made in the media about how it is supposed to affect Durant.
Well, what about its effect on our crowd?
I believe every foul drawn by Durant is going to remind *them* of Phil’s observation and what I’d like to see is our crowd riding the refs and influencing their calls.
“*One last hurrah from our man D-Fish. I think he’s got one more post season of big shots in him.”
I’ve said this many times before, but think about how crazy Fish has been in the playoffs throughout his career. Insane percentages.
But think about his greatest moments, the ones that’ll be replayed time and time again in montages. .4 seconds. Returning to the Jazz against the Spurs after his daughter’s operation when they needed him most. The two 3 pointers in the 09 Finals.
Those all came during his worst struggles, be it due to being a back up behind Payton, playing out of position next to Deron, or age.
Dick Barnett says
I will stick with my original prediction made about two months ago; the Lakers don’t make it past the first round.
They aren’t close to being the team they were last year, and the other teams in the West have gotten better. The Thunder is younger, faster, and hungrier than the Lakers. From their body language in the recent games the Lakers look like they are already planning their off seasons.
This series reminds me a lot of that first round series in 1981. The Houston Rockets had a record of 42-42, and everyone predicted a Laker sweep. They had Magic back in time to get in a few games after being out with a tore up knee for a few months, and looked ready to defend their crown. But, somebody forgot to inform the Rockets that they didn’t have a chance. They won that series 2-1, even with Magic back in the lineup and everyone else healthy.
Sometimes you just can’t get it back in time.
j.d. Hastings says
How about hallf of fame coaching by Phil Jackson (v. the playoff rookie Scottie Brooks)?
even with the crap that we’ve played with lately, the OKC can’t do anything about Pau Gasol. Even without Bynum, they can’t do anything against Gasol and LO.
I cannot see any Laker fan (if you are one) not giving the Lakers a shot in this series. I understand that maybe you want to be T.J. Simers to punctuate the bad to protect yourself if they lose, but as a fan, how can you predict them to lose?
I would like to see sixteen more Ws by the Lakers.
I think PJ calling out the refs and taking the fine (again) is his way of saying, “Lakers, thank you for the huge paycheck, now I’m going to give some back to help this team win another one.”
If it doesn’t affect the refs or KD, at last it’ll get our fans riled up (as 20. chibi pointed out).
Burgundy – phenomenal breakdown.
I’d love to face Phoenix in the WCF, if only because we never truly got our retribution for 2006 and 2007. It’s not the same team, but I still want to take them down in a playoff series.
This could be the first of many matchups between the Lakers and Thunder. Let’s start it off right.
The three biggest problems we have are these:
1-Point guard. Fisher has been plan bad on offense. He shootin 37% the worst of and starter in the playoffs. In addition his defense aganist Westbrook, Williams or Parker is a massive problem.
2-Bench has been bad. Farmer won’t play within the offesne and plays bad defense. Brown is off and on and shoots first and passes last. Luke is just an injury waiting to happen and Powell has regressed to a bad shooter and a foul machine.
3-Ron outside shot has dissapeared and his inside game is either a blown layup or a block.
Ron must step up. We won last year because Ariza caught fire. ron has to make those wide open 3s he has been bricking. I don’t see much hope for Fisher he is just a major liability. If he just passes and stops shooting we will be much better. That being said Kobe, Pau, Bynam and Odom are to much for OKC this is a 5 game series. We can handle Utah in 6 or if we draw Denver they have hit the wall and we will handle them in 6. I think dallas will end up in the WCF and they gave vastly imporoved. Buttler really helps them but we win this one in 7.
That leaves us to the finals. We can beat Orlando again in 6 but Cleveland is another story. Their fron line is bigger and stronger then ours. It comes down to who has the better series James or Kobe. The NBA wants James to win and he will live on the line. Kobe would have to be red hot from outside for us to win.
sorry it I see Clevleand using the ome court for the win in 7.
This means Mitch nneds to improve the backcourt and the bench. I love Blake’s game. His trible double should wake Mitch up to see he needs to be signed next year. Farmer, Fisher, Walton, Powell and Ammo need to go and real NBA talent must be brough in next year. we have the best 5 in the league but we have the worst 2nd 5 in the playoffs.
I hope Mitch wakes up and makes these changes.
Dick Barnett says
“I cannot see any Laker fan (if you are one) not giving the Lakers a shot in this series. I understand that maybe you want to be T.J. Simers to punctuate the bad to protect yourself if they lose, but as a fan, how can you predict them to lose?” – Ray
I gave my reasons in my prior post. If you think only those who believe the Lakers can win are true Laker fans, then have at it. I have been a Laker fan since 1963-64. I’ve seen enough basketball games, coached enough basketball games, and played in enough basketball games to know when a team is spent, and the Lakers look spent to me.
That’s my prediction, it’s not based on stats, or margins of error, or any other normative mean most analysts go by, it’s a gut feeling, and it’s watching their body language. They look like a team that just doesn’t have the heart to do the work they know it is going to take to get back to the finals.
But, we shall see. You may be right, but that’s the beauty of sports, you just never know.
But, I am sticking with my prediction – they don’t make it out of the first round.
The Dude Abides says
More good news on the Bynum front:
lil' pau says
* spending the night of apr 27th with my family rather than fretting over a game 5
Series I’m really looking forward to:
Boston-Miami. D-Wade is probably my favorite non-Lakers player (along with Paul), and I’m going to love seeing if he can do some single-handed damage against the hated greens. I only want Boston to win if we see them in the Finals, which is next to impossible right now.
Dallas-San Antonio. These teams have a ton of history. Will we see Roddy Buckets unleashed against Parker?
Utah-Denver. Two tough, evenly matched teams at their best.
“Yeah, by the calls he gets, he really gets to the line a lot, I’ll tell ya,” Jackson said Tuesday. “There’s a couple times in the last game where I was pretty curious how he got there.”
PJ got fined 35 thousand bucks for saying that?! 35 … thousand … (US?) dollars?!?
To quote Kobe in another context: “Are you kidding me?”
I mean, KD does go to the line … a lot! Stern makes me laugh sometimes.
* No ring for Shaq
33, I’m telling you, it’s the Curse of Darius Miles. Ever since they sent out that letter threatening teams if they signed Miles and took Portland’s cap space, it’s been all down hill for them.
28 – Ken said: “The NBA wants James to win and he will live on the line.”
Ken, be careful! Stern may try to fine you!
By the way, I gotta give Kurt thanks for the idea on this post. If you’re gonna steal, steal from the best.
As for predicting a Thunder series win, I don’t think it’s crazy but so much would have to go right for them that it would be pretty amazing. Not just because of the 1-8 match up, but because of the player match ups that exist in this series. We’ll have more tomorrow (and the day after), but I don’t see it personally.
Dick Barnett says
Ken – “The NBA wants James to win and he will live on the line.”
You are so right, Ken. Stern will deny until his face turns blue, but everybody knows it!
I also love your comment about Steve Blake. He could be the Steve Kerr, or Jon Paxson type the Lakers need, and Phil has been looking for since he got here.
I only disagree with you about Fish. I love that guys heart, he is a warrior, a competitor, and you don’t find those kinds of guys very often. I agree he shouldn’t start, but having him come off the bench would be the leader we’ve needed since Ron Harper.
I also would like Kupchak to really consider looking for offers for Bynum. He has proven to be susceptible to debilitating injuries every year since he got here. I have heard he has weak knees and ankles for a man his size, and that he will always have problems in that area. I would love to see Kevin Love, Joakim Noah, or Chris Bosh in that spot next year. But, contracts, salary caps, luxury tax, no-trade clauses make deals very difficult these days.
I think that the Lakers best and only chance in thewse playoffs is to feed the post in a disciplined manner. Pau can create an indelible mark on his legacy by continuing his efficiency through the playoffs. Dare I say he needs to be option 1 and the Bean and Bynum can fght for option 1a depending on matchups… If this is a Kobe-centric offense, that may win games, but I dont think it can win series.
16 and counting..
i am still sticking with my prediction that if OKC win either one of the first two games at the Staples, Lakers will lose the series.
i know i am probably sounding overly pessimistic. but nothing fuels OKC with higher enthusiasm than win on the road against defending champion and 1st seed in the west.
they will know they are special.
just like GSW killed Mavs in 2008.
OKC will win 2 games max, no way the Lakers lose this series. OKC is to young, to inexperienced and no frontcourt depth. The Lakers will come to play, I just wish vegas would start to think like some of you guys.
I agree fully with Gatinho, Its come full circle, Kobe had to feed Shaq before he ate to win his first rings, he won one last year doing it his way, now that he’s banged up he has to go back to feeding the big man if he wants to have any hope of winning the title this year. Kobe please understand that.
(edited for trade speculation)
to R, I hope Stern does fine me. I own a cigar company and I will pay him in stale cigars.
What it will come down to is health.
If the Lakers can get healthy during the Robber Barons series, and get that out of the way quickly (4 or 5 games), and then get a bit of rest/treatment before Round 2, then I like our chances to get all the way to the Finals.
Another freak injury or two, and the Lakers are in big trouble.
Injuries are ALWAYS a big factor, and they are almost always random.
(By the way, the NBA and Stern want Lebron to win a championship, just not this year. It behooves them to have Cleveland lose, and maybe lose embarrassingly, and have the Lebron Sweepstakes get that much more juice over the summer. Just saying… If you are going to be a conspiracy nut, do it right!)
…someone tossed all NBA teams to ever lace em up in a big big hat. You pull one team, and that will be the team you enter the playoffs with.
Now tell me, wouldn´t you be pretty damn thrilled to end up with this team – flaws and all?
Sure, there would be a couple of jackpots even better, but the chances to get anything better are slim to none.
Back to the list; could I please have me some monster-rebounding nights from Gasol. Get me more of the 20-rebs-per-game streaking Gasol, and less of the finesse 7-rebs per game 7-footer.
I let the talk of Bynum in #39 stay because it’s not like it was saying “trade X for Y”. But, let’s not start to get into trade speculation. First of all, read the commenting guidelines. Second, it’s the playoffs and trades are for the off-season (or in the run up to the deadline during the regular season). We’ll have plenty of time to talk about that stuff later.
Commenting quide lines?
Darn I always forget to read directions, instuctions and guide lines. No wonder i always under cook those TV Dinners.
Ok got it I was of course responding to Dick Barnett comment.
Can I say I would like to trade Joel for Bob Miller!
gsw was just a bad matchup for the mavs back in 08. avery johnson was just as much to blame as the whole mavs team for trying to play smallball against nellie, instead of staying with what worked best for them.
on the other hand, the only thing that the thunder have going for them is energy, health and the pg position. dont get me wrong, im not saying there is no way in hell they cant win this series, but its pretty close to that. kevin durant is a great young basketball player, but we have a very physical defender in artest to slow him down. he might not succeed in the first couple of games, but his body will wear kd down, no doubt about that. and if durant blows by artest a couple of posessions, we can still try kobe on him (also a pretty decent defender i think… :).
also, just the fact that they have a very young roster AND a rookie coach makes a big difference (imo). i think this first round matchup will be a lot like houston-portland last year. the blazers looked good on paper, but against a good coach and good veteran players it wasnt even close.
if la makes it to the finals, i think i´d rather play cleveland than orlando. their big-man are just washed up (z and shaq), and their young bigs (while great defensively) wont be able to score consistently against our guys down low. the have nobody to guard kobe and mo williams has yet to prove just how good a shooter he is when the games count. last year he just sucked, sorry to say that
*Shannon to bring back some ShanWOW moments that we used to know and love.
*Artest will put in work on defense, but what about his shooting % lately? Hope he picks it up.
*A new mamba face (remember last year it was the bottom jaw sticking out?)
Yes Darius, this was the best Post of the season in my book for sure, good job, very good job… and thanks Kurt for the suggestion for it. Yeah, the Thunder are going down.
48 Watch out, Ken,
I’ve suggested trading you to a Cavalier Website for future considerations.
It’s been rumored that Darius and a Cavalier Blogmaster are close to an agreement.
Among things being discussed would be a transfer of negative posts you make about Derek Fisher to the Cavs in exchange for negative Shaq posts to FB&G. lol
As a long time laker fan that currently lives in OKC, I am much more concerned about our first round match up than most seem to be. I know that OKC is VERY young/inexperienced but the way the lakers have been playing to end the season I wouldnt take anyone for granted.
Sefolosha has played kobe as well as anyone the past year or two because of his length and discipline not going for kobe’s fakes. With the way the lakers have been playing as of late, I look for kobe to come back from the injury wanting to take over from the beginning, especially if Bynum is not 100%. I think OKC could steal one of the first two games in LA if kobe comes back in “hero” mode and Bynum is not fully healthy.
In the end the lakers will win the series but I would be suprised if OKC doesn’ t take at least one game and would not be shocked if they won 2.
T. Rogers says
53) – I agree with you. OKC is better then some our fellow Lakers fans realize. The key is feeding the post. I am interested to see if Kobe will be willing to defer.
I agree with an earlier post saying Gasol needs to be the focal point. An unhealthy Kobe throwing up 25 shots a night will not win any series, not even against OKC.
So, yes, the Lakers should dispatch the Thunder. But they will have to approach the series a certain way to do that.
We own OKC, they have beat us once in the past few years. 5 games max.
I have a no trade contract. I knew that time at law school would come in handy one day.