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).
*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.)