Don’t worry.Â We have no idea which Lakers team will show up tonight either.
It feels like it was just yesterday – assuming you’re suffering from second-hand Stu and think “yesterday” means five days before Halloween – when the Lakers were beginning their first eight-game winning streak of the season by winning Game #1 against Houston.Â Things slowed down after they opened the season 13-2, but they’re on a roll again, winning 17 of 23 since the All-Star game.Â (Note for the uninitiated: this is extreme sarcasm.)
Finish with a couple more wins, and they’ll be the #2 seed in the West.Â What could go wrong now?Â After all, the Lakers have never lost six, much less seven games in a row since acquiring Pau.Â (Of course, until Sunday, they’d never lost five straight either.)
Look, the two time defending champs can obviously win the whole thing if they decide to apply themselves.Â Frankly, we don’t see any reason why they wonâ€™t send Zenmaster off with one final threepeat.Â Of course, we didn’t see any reason for them to matador their way to giving up 66 first-half points to Oklahoma City on Sunday before leading with a little over three minutes left in the game, and then…getting outscored 17-2 the rest of the way.Â (Yep, that’s 17 points they gave up in three – count ‘em, three – minutes.)
On the other hand, if our 16-time NBA champs wait too long to flip their switch back to the “on” position, this whole playoff thing could get ugly.Â Don’t worry, though.Â It’s not like they have a history of waiting until they’re midway through the second round before getting serious, right?
Of course not, so why worry if they happen tank another game or two before matters are concluded tomorrow in Sacramento?Â Do that, and the Lakers might not have to travel to San Antonio for the Conference Finals.Â They might be doing it in the second round.Â Special bonus:Â a total collapse to #4 in the West wouldnâ€™t just earn the Lakers roadcourt disadvantage from the second round on; theyâ€™d also get to open proceedings with the red hot Denver Nuggets, who no doubt fear them about as much as midgets fear Jimbo after starting them down their current trail of terror with a Staples Smackdown nine days ago.
In case you’re wondering how these last couple days of the regular season play out, Dallas closes at home tonight with New Orleans, which is still “battling” with Memphis for the right to miss San Antonio in the first round.Â Oklahoma City closes with a home gimme against Milwaukee.Â Our Heroes are tied in the loss column with the Mavs and are one ahead of OKC, holding tiebreakers against both, so you can do the math from there.
In the semi-likely event they reach the Finals, Chicago and Miami(!) are now out of reach.Â The Celtics are still one game back, but have the tiebreaker, so if they beat the Knicks on Wednesday – hardly a lock considering Boston’s pratfall against Washington yesterday – the Lakers would need to win out to avoid giving homecourt back to Boston at the last minute.
Not that that was important last year or anything.
That makes tonight’s Spurs game absolutely enormous.Â After all, there’s absolutely no way the Lakers would blow Wednesday’s season-ending game against the second-worst team in the West with so much on the line.Â None at all.
That would be like losing to an 18-win team they’d already whacked by 55 points earlier in the season.Â And that would never happen.