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.
*Derrick Rose dunks. Lots of them. You know, like this. Or this. Even this will do.
*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.
Shouldn’t that be “Doc Rivers must see that defense and think that used to be my team”?
about kobes cluthness? Abbot doesn’t quit he didnt make an article but he was on sportsnation tooting the same bs about kobe not being clutch. I dontthink he will ever get it. you can manipulate numbers to tell you anything. numbers are never the whole story.
kwame a. says
Pet peeve of mine is the idea the Knicks are historic franchise. The Knicks have one title in the early part of the 70s and had some nice teams in the 90s that tried to set hoops back. Outside of being in New York, the Nets have just about as much history in my opinion, and the attention they’ve gotten this year-at the expense of Portland, Memphis and Philly to name a few, is exactly in line with the superfluous coverage the Knicks get
Amen to the Bynum and Black Swan bullets.
Ideally, the Lakers get better with each successive round. Ideally, Kobe plays mostly within the system, our bigs touch the ball on every play, and we have hard cuts and enough shooting from deep to maintain spacing. Ideally, Drew’s knee gets better with time and he returns into defensive beast form, which frees Pau from a pounding and leaves us with a fresher frontline.
Missed the game last night – seems like people are quite impressed with Trey Johnson. What’s his game like? Is he a speedster/penetrator? A long-range shooter? A creator?
At this point Shannon Brown playing like Shannon Brown in 2009 would be surprise enough for all of us.
Johnson has a buttery smooth midrange jumper that’s always available in the triangle
Do the Bakersfield Jam employ the triangle like the Defenders did when they were around? Johnson seemed very comfortable yesterday playing within the offense.
I feel if the Lakers are healthy and rested they are still the team to beat in the west. Maybe they can get to another game 7 vs. the Celtics. On a related note, this video shows how we might feel if they do. http://www.youtube.com/user/badweatherfilm#p/u/0/vodhJa2xLsI
Manu out for G1 against Memphis. That makes that series even tougher for SA.
MMmmm butter. I want Johnson’s jumper to have a satisfying finish like bacon.
@3- ditto. same goes for people trying to make the Celtics/Knicks out to be a rivalry. Also people calling that series out as a possible1st round upset. The Knicks are terrible.
One note on the Kings: I’m a Lakers fan who grew up in Sacramento, and I gotta say I used to HATE Grant Napier and Jerry Reynolds. But watching that clip from the earlier post, I feel awful for them. They’re annoying, but they LOVE that Kings squad and the fans there are great. Sad day for my hometown and for the NBA in general when fans like that lose their team while cities like Miami have to run an ad campaign to beg people to come watch Lebron James and D Wade.
Good list, just want to add that ideally we’ll get AllStar Lamar, not Hedley Lamarr.
I don’t want to hijack the thread (so please delete if I step on your toes, Darius), but I’d be interested if any of you have a certain song in mind that they relate to the upcoming Laker playoff run. Be it that the song describes the team for you, just gets you pumped, whatever.
My suggestion would be “The Fire” by The Roots. The lyrics just seem to fit with the mindset of a back-to-back champion (and maybe especially Kobe) getting ready for these special moments that are bound to come between now and June that will separate them from the rest.
Let’s hope Kobe takes this to heart:
“You can’t escape the history that you was meant to make
That’s why the highest victory is what I’m meant to take
You came to celebrate, I came to cerebrate
I hate losing, I refuse to make the same mistake”
I don’t think there is a chance the Spurs are going to beat OKC and get to the west Finals. I don’t think even Spurs fans think there is. They are hoping they get passed the Grizzlies. My hope is that the Heat suffer an injury so we can beat them in the Finals. On a side note I’m so happy that Bynum for the first time in his career in in shape and healthy going into the playoffs. The kid deserves it. I am anticipating 20 and 12 from him in this first round.
Re: Bill Simmons Playoff Preview
He makes one good point. I know Darius is planning a write up on this that we are all looking forward to. William Simmons asks an importnant question. “My only concern for the Lakers is do they know their best finishing five? I saw Bynum when Phil pulled him out before crunch time of the OKC game and he had this look on his face like why would you be taking out your second best player? The Thunder then right away went on a 10-0 run to pull away.”
Chris J says
The Heat have to suffer an injury for the Lakers to beat them in the Finals, Aaron?
What kind of confidence is that, and aside from that who wants a title at the expense of beating at team at less than 100 percent? A win is a win, but I’d much rather see the Lakers beat a full Miami roster than have to listen to the “Well of (insert name) here had played…” debate play on forever.
The Lakers have been on both sides of that argument over time, and it’s no fun either way.
J.D. Hastings says
In the 2nd half of the podcast Simmons said he liked the Trailblazers because you couldn’t be sure which 5 man unit they’d play at the end of games.
My blood pressure’s wish list is something close to 2001 but that’s probably too much to ask for.
David R. says
Also thought during that OKC game, pulling Bynum out was a way for Phil Jackson get OKC to show all of their cards.. lets hope i was right. More importantly If our guys our healthy I’m liking our chances against the rest of the teams we’ll face.
John Morris says
I already have my 2011 LA Lakers NBA Champions dance:
*Random fan posting youtube clip of heckling Bill Simmons after game 7 win again
that was definitely one of my favorite moments last year
If this Lakers team is healthy, they will beat the Heat. I don’t see the Heat making it to the Finals though. Either the Bulls or Celtics will knock them off this year. Lakers will beat whichever of those two make it. Then next year will be the year. Next year when Kobe is going for 7 to raise himself above almost everyone who has come before him. Then the Lakers will be facing the Heat in the finals and that is gonna be Epiiiccc.
I just hope that the CP3 that we all know and love, does not cause the Lakers any problems with taking the Hornets down, fairly quickly in the first round. The Lakers need all of the rest that they can get.
1. Lakers getting to the finals.
2. The following teams NOT making it to the finals: Boston and Miami
3. Chicago making it to the finals.
4. PJ putting Kobe/Barnes/Artest or whomever on Rose to win the 12th championship at the expense of a great point guard, just to finish the eerie symmetry he has started by winning the first of his 12 championships as a coach of the Bulls by putting Pippen on Magic.
5. At least one shot of LeBron, Wade and Bosh watching the finals at home.
6. No more puppets. (unless used to show #5)
The problem the Lakets have with the Heat is that they have two players (Lebron and Wade) who are better than any Lakers player. Add to the fact that Bosh has had his way with Gasol on both games this season. The lone advantage the Lakers have at Center won’t be properly utilized as Kobe goes into hero mode whenever LeBron is on the floor. And when do we go to Bynum anyways?
Nobody remembers why you won, only that you did. Only serious Lakers fans realize the Lakers would probably have won in 2008 if Bynum and Ariza were healthy.
Listen to the podcast again. He said he didn’t like the fact you didn’t know who they would play at the end of games (speaking of the Blazers)
I hope you’re right. But I don’t see how the Celtics with a bunch of has beens or the Bulls with one all star are going to beat three perennial all stars
A little slow from last night, but it’s been a feeling that keeps getting stronger. Every time the opponent has a fast break with numbers and we only have Fish back, I am coming to not only fully believe, but to expect it will be a charge going the other way. I think the odds go up even more if it’s 3v1 rather than 2v1. I know exactly where he will be standing; how can an opposing player be so selfish as to hold the ball so long. You KNOW Fish isn’t going to be jumping to contest.
Re: The Playoff Song
Coming out of the AS break for the first 20 games I would have advocated a little “Don’t Stop Me Now” (Queen), but now it could be “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” (Righteous Brothers)
Travis Y. says
What’s our mantra people?
Our team will go as far as its defense takes them.
I want to see the inspired defense after the all star break. That will take Pau rotating and being fully healthy. He’s been letting opposing bigs get off. rebounds and not contesting shots around the basket.
Bynum is our defensive anchor, let’s just get him healthy. I wouldn’t mind him missing Sundays game if he’s fully healthy on Wednesday.
Can’t wait, it’s gonna be a great postseason!
Interesting X’s and O’s analysis of our first round match-up:
And a Phil Jackson article by Adande:
This one includes this interesting passage:
You wonder if, intrinsically, players will feel less obligated to obey a coach they know won’t be around next year. For the Lakers these playoffs will be like the final days of an elementary school year.
Jackson admits, “They’ve treated me like a lame duck … by not letting me control their minds when they’ve gone on some errant journeys out there on the floor and some irrational behavior that I’m not appreciative of.”
Kobe Bryant went off on his own at the end of regulation in the season finale in Sacramento, firing off five missed shots before making the game-tying 3-pointer. Jackson included Bryant among the things that the Lakers will have to “corral” in the playoffs, but acknowledged that, “This is a guy who smells blood in the water and goes for it … that goes with what he’s made up of and the DNA that he has.” He also said that Bryant’s will “is as strong as anybody who’s ever played this game.”
Now everyone seems to be loosely looking around the landscape, so I will drop my 2 cents about the outlook too.
No one in the West seems to have anything the Lakers cannot beat. Sure they could loose to the deep Spurs, or the athletic Thunder, but I like their chances.
I think the Bulls and the Heat are the only two teams I cannot figure out how the Lakers would fare against, even at their best.
Who can guard Rose? Will we just accept that he IS going to drive, let Fisher chase above all screens to take the shot away, and try to wall of the paint?
Will Kobe spill his energy on tha end of the floor? Could be the best option, let him try and win one on defense, and play the team game at the other end!?
Heat, somehow Artest cannot seem to get under Lebron’s skin like he does with all other SFs in the league. I don’t think the Heat have a great team, but they have great weapons against Kobe’s hero mode (Wade defends him especially well down the stretch), and I am not sure the Lakers have the personel to stay with Lebron and Wade on the perimeter.
So I geuss my wish-listis includes:
*A Lakers-Celtics rematch.
*100 % healthy Bynum taking it out on The Big Lazy.
*Maybe the last chapter in the Lakers-Spurs rivalry that is nearing its end.
Losing a 20 point lead (in the 4TH QUARTER no less) in the most important and last game of the season with everything riding on it (seeding, favorable match-ups going forward in playoffs, et al) creeps me out about this team. When will they get it?
Kobe in “Hero Mode” missing jumpers left and right, Fish bricking lay-ups, and everyone else standing there watching Kobe fling brick after brick is not what you want to see from a team who been there and done that. Pau did not want the ball in the post because Dalambert was owning him, Kobe again had to put it on himself, and no one else does anything when Kobe ISO’s.
We lost momentum because we were running Luke (well past his 5 minute expiration), Shannon, and JSmith AT THE SAME TIME!!!! We lost the lead because Ron and LO both throw up early 3 point bricks, Shannon bricks two shots with 18 and 17 seconds left on the shot clock (Phil wisely pulls him) and then Kobe goes into ISO mode makes two shots and then promptly misses 5 shots in a row. The Ball Never Went Inside!!! Why is this so hard for us to comprehend?
Renato Afonso says
Well, actually, i wish for the following:
Lakers beating the Mavs in round two – Simmons is right, we’ve been deprived of seeing Dirk in the playoffs against us for too long.
Spurs beating OKC – Durant and Westbrook can break through when we’re done. Plus, I hate Perkins who gets away with more fouls than any other center in the league.
Boston beating Miami in 7 games – Not rooting for Lebron or Wade anytime soon.
Lakers beating the Spurs in the West finals – I want a last showdown with them. Truth be told, the Lakers and Spurs may be a while before they meet again in the western finals and when you think back of the 00’s, you’ll think of the Lakers and Spurs. They DESERVE to meet…
Celtics beating the Bulls in the Eastern finals – Derrick Rose will have many battles with Lebron for years to come. He can wait.
Lakers over Celtics in 5! games – I hate Boston. I hate Garnett. I hate “wheelchair” Pierce. I hate Rondo. I hate Ainge. I hate Bird. I hate McHale. I hate(d) Auerbach. I hate Boston fans. I hate Doc and his “starting five” belief. I hate how they make excuses all the time. I hate how they ALWAYS blame the refs on a loss. I hate how they talk about injuries (KG, PErkins) and overlook other teams’ injuries (Bynum, Ariza). I hate them all and since this is their LAST chance at winning a title with this core, I want the Lakers to win it in five games. How? Demolish them in the first two at home. Lose game three in a close game. Win game four in close fashion. Having Kobe shoot the game winning three pointer over a stretched Paula Pierce to seal the championship. I want to see them cry in the parquet floor and hoist the trophy there…
I hope we stay healthy as well as every other team.
Am I alone in this dream?
I recommend anyone referencing Mr. Simmons’ NBA Playoff podcast to re-visit his 2010 and 2009 version. He’s almost always wrong about the Lakers and their chances in the playoffs. And his newfound love for Bynum is precious; earlier this season, he was killing Laker fans for being high on Bynum.
In this year’s pod he compares Kobe to MJ in Washington; I’m sorry, but he’s not even close to credible in his takes on the Lakers.
Mark me down as a Laker fan who is more worried about the Spurs than the Thunder. You have to suffer a little in the playoffs before you are ready to win.
I am so happy that we are going to see playoff rotations and minutes for this team now.
Re: Phil Jackson calling Kobe Old
I’ve never heard Jackson tell Kobe to change his play due to his declining skills before. Wow. And right before the playoffs. Phil always chooses his words perfectly and at the perfect time. He told the press at this pre playoffs presser that Kobe needs to realize he can’t do the same things he used to be able to do.
@28 – not at all. may I add an addendum to it though?
On Kobe’s series-winning 3-pointer, he curls off a screen set by Gasol. Garnett switches over to contest, but is met by an ‘inadvertent’ elbow to the throat from the Black Swan. He looks up from the fetal position as the Lakers win, sees Gasol standing over him, and decides to stay in said fetal position.