Last Sunday, we were sitting around getting ready for the Lakers-Nuggets game when, knowing Our Heroes were about to win their 10th in a row. We decided to get a little jump on matters, so we started writing about how the 16-Time World Champions were closing in on doing the impossible and catching San Antonio for top playoff seed in the West, coming from seven games down with 12 to go.
What we meant to say was that the Spurs would lock up homecourt advantage within four days, which they kinda sorta did last night.
Silly us. What we actually wrote last Sunday morning was:
On March 22 – as in 13 days ago – the Lakers were absolutely, positively, unquestionably, destined for no better than a second place finish in the NBA West. They were seven games behind San Antonio with 12 games left on their schedule. Even if they won out, the Spurs would tie for the top spot in the West by going 5-7 in their remaining 11 games. A 6-6 record, and all was well in Alamoville.
Then, the roof caved in. (Okay, so it was actually a knee, an ankle, and a quad that caved in.) Unfortunately for San Antonio fans everywhere, those injuries belonged to their Big Three, and the Spurs lost their first six of those games. Holding up their end of the bargain, the Lakers have now won 18 of 19 since the All-Star break.
The result: they’re now a game behind San Antonio in the loss column. Oh, and the teams have one game left to play each other. And it’s in Staples Center on April 12, the next-to-last day of the season. And if the Lakers win, they’ll almost certainly have the tiebreaker between the two teams.
Okay, take two: the Lakers have now won 17 of 21 since the All-Star break, and if Mark Cuban’s evil minions hadn’t been generous enough to dump their last four games, the Forum Blue & Gold would be looking at losing homecourt back to Dallas.
On the other hand, in the NBA, failure for one means opportunity for another, and the another we’re talking about might be the Lakers’ worst nightmare, their relatively new unfriends from OK City. Surely you remember the Thunder, bringers of a near-upset in last year’s first round, now semi-new and improved with Kendrick Perkins manning the middle.
The Thunder are a game back of Dallas with four to go, and they’ll have the tiebreaker too. What fun that would be for Kobe and Co. to have to go through the semi-civilized rednecks of Oklahoma on their way to the conference finals. The Mavs finish with two presumed pushovers followed by real games at Houston and home to New Orleans. After hosting Denver and coming to Staples this Sunday, the Thunder finish with two layups of their own.
The Lakers, by the by, don’t get another gimme until they wrap up matters next Wednesday in Anaheim Sacramento. At this point, their real scoreboard watching might involve the East’s Finals contenders. With the Bulls now out of reach, the Lakers are tied with Green Evil Incarnate, who will have the tiebreaker should they meet in the Finals. LeBron & The South Beachaires are a game back and have the tiebreaker too.
A week ago, all signs pointed to a Celtics-tying 17th title in Lakerland. Now, things have returned back to normal. In other words, why make things easy now?
You still have to like their chances, but life as a Laker fan was so much more fun five days ago. At some point, you’d think we’d have gotten used to this, but then we work with Stu & Jimbo, and yet we keep dreaming that, one day, the air we breathe at work won’t reek of beer, tobacco, and methane.
In other words, here at 96-7 KCAL Rocks, our motto should be…
Reality: we’re just not that into you.