This is long overdue but I been busy as a mug trying to make sure I never wake up from living the dream. Yeah right. I'm unemployed. And I'm not spell checking this joint so deal wit it.
Ok, where shall we begin? Let's start with the obvious choice and the team that everyone really wants to talk about. The Cot-damn Los Angeles Lakers. Holy shit, being a Laker fan is like the first time you tried to go two slot on a girl. It's frustrating and exhilerating all at the same time. Except afterwards you don't feel like a deviant...or do you Laker fan?
So what's with the Lakers? Just in case you haven't been following the playoffs, here's a recap of the Lakers...Steamrolled Utah...As they should seeing how Utah can't win on the road. After Utah, the Lakers were who we thought they were. And then they faced Houston. Correction, they faced a depleted Houston Rockets team. It took the Lakers seven games to dispose of a Houston Rockets team that was without T-Mac, and Yao Ming. A Houston Rocket team with Scola as their main inside threat, and Aaron Brooks as their go to guy.
I had a friend (P.Bains) so sure that the Lakers would advance he's willing to go 100 to 1 odds and pay 10G's. Im not an idiot or a betting man or I'd be out a G right now, but his sentiments echo the rest of the world, this was supposed to be an easy series...Or was it?
Why did it take the Lakers 7 games to take care of a team with lineup that probably wouldnt have even made the playoffs in the West?
Of course the Laker haters and doubters want to say it's because the Lakers aren't a championship caliber team. A true championship team would have taken care of business in game 4, instead of getting blown out, and a true championship team would have wrapped up this series in five games max.
I'm not on that tip. But the critizisms are warranted.
But I believe there's more to it than that.
Let's look at it closely. First off, Shane Battier and Ron Artest are the two best defensive guards,small forwards in the game. And Shane Battier might be the most intelligent player in the game right now. Next, excluding Brooks, the rest of the Rockets, Lowry, Landry, Scola and Hayes are some of the most tough and hardnosed players in the game. We're talking about guys that are in the NBA and have made their careers based on their toughness, their game is toughness. What am I getting at? Well, you put Pau Gasol in a fight against any of those guys and he get's one punched. I can say that about most of the Lakers up against those guys.
Point being, in the NBA Playoffs, in a seven game series, toughness is a factor.
Following along so far, because this is where I put it together...
You put Battier on Bryant, a guy who studies Kobe's tendancies and habits and might know Kobe's game better than Kobe does himself. All Battier does is make Kobe take the shots that percentage wise "don't go in as often". He doesn't try to stop Kobe, he uses Kobe's arrogance to his advantage. He knows Kobe feels every shot he takes is going in...the bottom line is that is just not true unless he's having one of those games.
Ok next, you just make sure you keep one of those tough guys all over Pau, because we all know he doesn't like the physical play. Next you put Artest on Odom...Odom has trouble getting into a the flow if he cant get his offense going, everyone knows that. Lamar needs to feed off something, that's why he plays so well at home, he feeds off the crowd, the lights and Laker girls.
The result is Lakers being out of sync. Battier did such a good job on Kobe that he made him a jump shooter for a large majority of the series. The result of that is no penetration, no double team, no open kickouts to shooters like Ariza and D-Fish...who by the way had his hands full with Brooks on D. And much like last year, the rest of the Lakers just don't always show up on the road. Why because, they don't all know their roles...It's tough to play in a hostile environment when you you don't have a set role, too many variables. A little more on that later...
Basically, the Rockets depleted or not, are inherently a really bad match up for the Lakers and for Phil Jackson. Check the history...Adleman's teams have always given Phil a little trouble, but Phil has always had the players to overcome it.
A bad matchup does many things, but what it really does it expose weaknesses. We learned that the Lakers have trouble matching a team's intensity on the road and we learned that physical play bothers the Lakers. The problem with knowing all of this is that it doesnt mean anything because the Lakers still advanced. Bottom line is that they faced adversity and found a way to overcome it. Despite their weaknesses, there is no guarantee that another team can exploit them. Ask yourself this, do any of the remaining teams have defenders like Ron Artest and Shane Battier who can guard Kobe WITHOUT FOULING HIM. That's the key...the Rockets didnt' foul the Lakers, they kept them off the line, that's clean, hard defense.
Next up is Denver, my team, and despite how their rolling, I think it's actually a better matchup for the Lakers.
I see other problems with the makeup of the Lakers though...Like their lack of true role players.
For instance....Vuijic, are you a shooter or what? Make some 3's already. And Bynum, why doesn't he play big all the time? Why is he in and out of the starting lineup if he's the missing piece of the puzzle? Farhmar, when are you going to show up and take ownership of a role? Are you the back up pg or is Shannon Brown? There's so much more, but I'll save it for next time, let's move out East.
Orlando and Cleveland. Damn, I almost forgot the Cavs were in the playoffs. They havent played anyone yet, but the result of their easy comp is that they are firing on all four...I don't think Orlando is going to slow them, not after how they struggled against a Boston team that had nothing left in the tank and had Scalabraine playing major minutes. Show me anyone who if they saw SCAL in a bar, with his front porch hanging out of his shirt would believe this guys played for the Celtics and was D'ing up Dwight Howard. You might even fight him for his blasphemy. But what we saw in Boston was just the heart of a champion fighting, they really didnt have a shot at beating that Orlando team with the scoring and depth they had.
The problem with Orlando is they just don't know who they are yet. Are they a team that works inside out or what? Everyone wants Howard to get more touches and while that makes appears to make sense, the bottom line is despite how much he's worked out with Patrick Ewing, he can't score like the Big E. He's not going off for forty, you'll be lucky if he ever gives you thirty. His game right now is cleanup and defense. They dont throw him nearly enough lobs and he's terrible at passing out of double teams. In fact, he doesn't even warrant a double team unless he's in the paint. I actually think Cleveland might take this one in 5, maybe six.
Both series will be great to watch, but the bottom line is this...The performance that Boston showed has told me one thing, whoever wins the championship this year is only winning it because KG was absent and Boston wasn't at full strength. I know that's a hard pill to swallow but it's true. You throw KG and Powe back on that team and Boston is probably the best team in the playoffs again. Bynum certainly hasnt made the Lakers unbeatable, if anything, they are the same team as last year, except D Fish is a little less spry, and Ariza is a wildcard.
BEST MOMENTS OF THE PLAYOFFS SO FAR:
1. The entire Boston and Chicago Series
2. Anything involving a Ron Artest interview on how he grew up on courts where guys were getting stabbed in the heart. Wow Ron.
3. The return of Mr Bigshot Chauncey Billups and the maturing of Carmelo Anthony's game.
4. Big Baby's game winner--best part was how he shoved the kid with the courtside seats out of the way during the celebration.
5. Kobe's rant in game 2 on how "HE CAN'T GUARD ME" Best part is when he yelled at Adleman--Get him off me, HE CANT GUARD ME. Go ahead Kobe.
6. Lebron's step back buzzer beating trey piece from two steps inside half. Prediction: Lebron is going to change the game. He'll start shooting threes from there consistenly and maybe beyond half. And he'll make them. You heard it here first.
I might have missed some stuff, but this is long enough. If you got some noise, put it down or comment.
That's my word. Im out.