Yesterday, in recapping the Lakers’ most recent gut wrenching loss our closing thoughts were on supporting this team until the very end. The thinking goes that while this series certainly has the look and feel (and historical precedence) of one that’s all but over, fans turn their focus to “all but” portion of that phrase rather than that all encompassing “over” part. This is the nature of being a fan.
Over at Land O’ Lakers, there is a sobering post (that’s well worth your time) that speaks to this fact; a post that I think sums up exactly what many of us think and feel at this very moment. The fact that the Lakers are in this bind now but really have been in this bind all season. That Dallas is more than a worthy foe, that they have shown to be the better team. In exploring this, Brian Kamenetzky does an excellent job of summarizing how the mind and heart can be on two different pages:
The image of greatness is hard to erase, especially when obscured by near-greatness and familiarity.
For this season’s Lakers, the alchemy of timing and performance appears to have eluded them, despite the lofty expectations. Gasol’s postseason collapse has robbed them of critical production, the outside shooting has gone almost comically cold, even relative to the team’s own middling track record on that front. Meanwhile, Dallas has raised their game to a level the Lakers can’t match.
All that remains now is the chance for a miracle, the idea the Lakers might do what nearly 100 teams before them couldn’t, and recover from a 3-0 hole. I know it won’t happen, but even then it’s hard to completely kill the memory of how good this group has been. Some team will some day be the first to pull it off, right?
But while we who root for the players to win find a balance between what we think will happen and what is likely to happen, the players themselves have no such luxury. They have no other recourse to believe that they will in fact be that team that defies the odds.
Earlier today, Andrew Bynum’s twitter account lit up with the simple phrase “MAKE HISTORY!”. And at Lakers’ practice, Kobe Bryant still speaks like a man possessed to win and one who sees no other option but to do so.
Which brings me back to the nature of being a fan. As I stated yesterday this series is not, technically, over. Dallas is in firm control, make no mistake, but the Lakers are still alive. And while I’m not saying they’ll win the series, my focus isn’t on that ultimate goal but only on one game and what they can do in this single contest.
With the way the players are talking, I turn not to logic (as I so often do when breaking down the X’s and O’s of the game) but to hope. Hope that they can pull out the victory that’s eluded them in the first three contests. Hope that one of the game turning plays goes in the Lakers direction. Hope that in this dark corner of the Lakers season they’ll rally one more time to show us that they can pull it out. For some reason, I still have confidence that they can do this tomorrow and take the series back to Staples for one more crack at it.
Maybe I’m as crazy as Kobe Bryant for believing such things. After all, the plays that have needed to be made have all been made by the Mavericks. And is often the case in the playoffs, those plays go to the team that’s better (think back to Gasol and Artest’s tip-ins from last year’s playoffs). But in a make or break game, I still have faith in this Laker group. The odds say I’m wrong and maybe I will be. But tomorrow I’ll be watching to cheer this team on, hoping that we’ll all see Tuesday together.