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Lakers Postseason Recap — Pros and Cons

The 39 point drubbing at the hands of the Celtics was a fitting end to a disappointing nicholson.jpgNBA Finals. It was disappointing not just because the Lakers lost, but because what should have been a dramatic climax to a great season, as well as the renewal of an historic rivalry, became a string of ugly, anticlimactic grindfests that left Kobe and crew looking like a bunch of heartless wannabes.

After some reflection (and emergency therapy), I have some thoughts on the Lakers postseason, collapse, and future.

Pros

  • They won the Western Conference — After the tumultuous preseason, no one expected this; and despite what myopic Bostonians will say, the West is still a lot better than the East
  • They beat the defending NBA champs to get there — Sure, San Antonio is getting old, but they’re still one of the premiere teams in the league (and would they have rolled over like LA did in this series?)
  • Lakers did all this WITHOUT THEIR STARTING CENTER — Call it sour grapes, but this series would have looked a lot different if Andrew Bynum would have been in the middle instead of Pau Gasol
  • They’re one of the youngest teams in the league
  • They have a good bench — Granted,Walton, Turiaf, Farmar and Vajacic looked awful in the Finals, but they had stretches during the season that carried the Lakers (it was also one of the reasons most pundits picked LA to beat the Celtics)
  • Kobe Bryant — Still the preeminent scoring threat in the NBA and, when he wants, one of its best defenders (and, after this season, probably won’t be going anywhere)

Cons

  • They’re soft! — Was anything more evident in the Finals than that the Lakers were being pushed around by folks like… Kendrick Perkins and Leon Powe??!!!
  • Lack a second go-to guy — Heck, Celtics needed three of them! (and don’t tell me Gasol is a consistent go-to guy)
  • Lakers are a sporadic, if not mediocre, defensive team — If I have to hear “Defense wins championships” again, I’m gonna puke; but after watching LA get shackled, stripped, bruised and boxed-out by the Celtics, they might want to make that their new mantra
  • They have an inexperienced bench — Walton, Turiaf, Farmar and Vajacic looked like the JV squad against Cassell, Posey and P.J. Brown; that wasn’t the eye of the tiger under Sasha’s mop, it was the look of f-e-a-r
  • They lack an enforcer — a nasty, dirty, blue collar, bang-it-up, throw-it-down thug who thinks the word “finesse” applies only to ballerinas
  • Kobe Bryant — Yeah, KB is both a plus and a minus; he shot only 40% for the series (and face it: he shot them out of game four with one failed fade away after another); but until they get a legitimate second threat, Lakers fans must resign themselves to hold their breath while the Black Mamba jacks up another circus shot

vangundy.jpgSo I guess there’s some light at the end of the tunnel. But whether or not this crew can get the train to the station is another story. Talk shows around here are dropping names like Ron Artest and Baron Davis. But it’s still too painful to think about. Okay, maybe not as painful as listening to those dreadful ABC announcers, but painful nonetheless.

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{ 12 comments… add one }
  • Mark H. June 20, 2008, 2:06 PM

    Mike,

    Welcome to sports hell. We Philly fans have been living here for a while, so if you need help coming to grips with near-misses in championship games, let me know. I know your pain all too well.

  • Xdpaul June 20, 2008, 4:06 PM

    Having no real dog in the fight, I thought the series was a lot of fun. A historic matchup, some remarkable comebacks and one of the most dominant finishes ever.

    L.A. needs to get Shaq back. I know he may not be at the height of his powers, but he would have made a difference in these Finals.

  • C. Duran June 20, 2008, 6:00 PM

    Here were my biggest frustrations with the series:
    1. Who smiled more on the court during the game? – Lakers.
    2. Who patted their opponents on the back, butt, or top of the head more? – Lakers.
    3. Who helped their opponents up from the floor more? – Lakers.
    To win the championship the Lakers had to go THROUGH the Celtics. They were acting like they were involved in a friendly soccer match, while the Celtics were acting like they were in the Super Bowl. I agree that the Lakers need an enforcer. But I think the enforcer is already on the Lakers. If Kobe would have came out and set the tone, the rest of the Lakers would have followed. Kobe should have came out in Game 1 and issued some hard fouls. He should have set Ray Allen and Paul Pierce on their asses and then just stared at them until they got up with the help of THEIR OWN TEAMMATES. Instead, Kobe was playing the finesse game. And when he did knock down Allen or Pierce, he politely helped them up, smiled at them, asked if they were okay, and rubbed down their butts until they felt better.
    If Kobe would have done this, then the rest of the Lakers would have came to his aid. You might have even seen Pau throw KG to the floor.
    But it didn’t happen like this. Instead, the Lakers were in fear of KG, Leon Powe, and Big Baby. The Lakers got pushed around and raped, and they didn’t even resist it (see Game 6)!

  • Rebecca LuElla Miller June 20, 2008, 6:45 PM

    Agree and disagree, as usual, Mike. 😀 Part of me is happy for the way things turned out just so that the locals would stop raving about Pau Gasol as if he was the savior of a failing team. The Lakers were on the road to the championship until Bynum got hurt. Pau kept them in the fight, no question, but anyone willing to look could see he is nowhere near as athletic as Andrew.

    No one will also know how much a difference Trevor Ariza will make when he’s had a chance to be with the team the whole year and without a broken bone to contend with.

    No, we do not need to trade anyone. Maybe Phil Jackson needs to rethink is substitution patterns or lack thereof. For some reason he did some inexplicable things in the finals.

    Game 4 could have been an LA rout a la Boston’s game 6, but Jackson took his foot off the pedal, not the players.

    As to those announcers … what’s changed? Back in the Magic day, the announcers were those who covered the East, too. It’s a media bias. I turned down the TV and listened to the radio for games 3-6, despite the picture delay on the feed coming from Boston. It was better than listening to the nonsense coming from those three cheerleaders ABC had behind the mic.

    So how do I really feel. heheheh. 🙂

  • Rebecca LuElla Miller June 20, 2008, 6:58 PM

    Oh, forgot the defense. Again Andrew makes ALL the difference. What would the Boston guards do if they had a shot blocker waiting for them at the rim?

    And here’s the other thing. A team plays one way with a shot blocker, which the Lakers did from August to January, but another way without. They were learning on the fly. I thought they did some remarkable things defensively.

    Having Kobe leave Rondo and double Garnett worked really well. The other guys rotated well and helped the helper. Until Jackson put in a bunch of guys who NEVER play together. They looked confused at times because they WERE confused at times. Who could blame them? Instead of knowing instinctively when to rotate, when to fight over or under a screen, when to switch, when to double, when to show out and recover, they were a step late in critical stretches because they were unfamiliar with each other.

    Give Boston credit, though. Rondo only played 14 minutes in game 5 because he wasn’t effective. Pierce took the role of drive and kick, with the difference that he wasn’t afraid to finish. Rondo saw how that worked and did likewise in game 6.

    Plus, the Lakers didn’t seem prepared with Plan B when Rondo sat and they had to contend with another perimeter shooter.

    I am confident the Lakers will learn from this. And that so many young, young players now have finals experience!

    But no, they do not need an enforcer. This is basketball, not mug ball. If they take care of business, they will win without resorting to Bostonian tactics. How many championships did Pat Riley win when he started coaching in the Eastern Conference and tried to play mug ball? 😮

    Becky

  • JD June 20, 2008, 9:27 PM

    Boston still sucks! Can you say NY Yankees!

  • Alayna Duran June 20, 2008, 9:39 PM

    I thought Turiaf was the enforcer… haha. I agree with Chris, Kobe has to set the tone. He should of got in there and bust a Mike Tyson on somebody. The Lakers played weak and they went down without a fight. I blame Phil for having his favorites and not taking any chances, he should of took his hanger out before he put on his suit haha.. But overall, the Lakers are young and they have to go through troubles before they can reach triumph. They’re going to win it next year.

  • Mike Duran June 21, 2008, 1:32 AM

    Mark, if I recall right, the last time Philly made it to the NBA Finals it was LA doing the drubbing. Xdpaul wrote: “the series was a lot of fun.” Are you tempting me to issue a lifetime ban from this site Mr. Wiseguy? CD, so how do you really feel? Becky, I concur about Jackson’s wacky substitutions. Perhaps he’s the one that needs traded. And although Riley’s teams were not thugs, they did have guys like Rambis and A.C. Green whose jobs were, um, fairly one-dimensional. JD, what do the Yankees have to do with this discussion? Alayna, so you’re trying out for the Comedy Club? ba-dum-bum!

  • Mike N. June 22, 2008, 10:59 PM

    Mike,
    I am in agreement, by the way didn’t Kobe say prior to the finals he was “unstopable”? I guess he found out the hard way 5 one 1 still not a winning proposition. I agree we needed to have a couple flagrant fouls called against us in game 1 and set the tone for the rest of the series. Our role players were very scared and Kobe had very little help. I think we have a great core of young talented guys who need to get tougher in defense. I have a suggestion, They should sign up for a few UFC matches during the summer and learn what it means to be involved in a “contact sport”.

  • dayle June 22, 2008, 11:33 PM

    Lakers Schmakers.

    The Chris Paul era has begun.

  • Elaina June 23, 2008, 12:23 AM

    I’m still crying! How depressing is that the Celtics won?

  • Mark H. June 30, 2008, 7:21 PM

    Boy, I try to offer a sympathetic ear, and you have to bring up more Philly pain. Sheesh…

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