Wednesday’s final regular season Lakers game captured their entire NBA season in 48 – okay, 53 – minutes. Urgently needing a win to avoid seeing their personal nemises from Portland in the first round and ceding homecourt advantage to Dallas in the second, they coasted to a 20-point fourth quarter lead over the horrifically bad Sacramento Kings of Anaheim. Then, they handed the game over to Sacto before a never-shoulda-been-allowed-to-happen three from Kobe got them to overtime with less than five seconds left. Then, they coasted in overtime.
Anyway, we figured that if the Lakers aren’t going to take every game seriously, why should we? So, bearing in mind that from midseason on, it’s been brutally apparent that the eight best NBA teams are light years ahead of the rest of the league, join us as we blow off the first two weeks of the playoffs and take a look at the second round, where things are guaranteed to get interesting, meaning the Lakers might wake up by then.
Here’s what we’re looking at in the Western Conference come the first week of May:
San Antonio vs. Oklahoma City. So, which team should the Lakers root for in this one? Until a month ago, the Spurs were easily the best team in the league. Then guys started getting hurt. Important guys. Like the only three guys on the team that matter. When your fourth-best weapon is the ghost of Richard Jefferson, you can’t lose your Big Three. Tim Duncan and Tony Parker are allegedly back in one piece, but they don’t look it. Manu Ginobili is missing an elbow at the moment. Uh oh.
If the Lakers don’t fear the Thunder after last year’s first round, they’re out of their minds. With two legitimate All-Stars and Kendrick Perkins adding more heart to an already tough team, the Thunder are the West’s next powerhouse. If their time isn’t now, it isn’t far away, and we bet they beat the Spurs into submission.
What could go wrong in April: Denver is red freaking hot and would scare any other first round opponent. They have a puncher’s chance against Oklahoma City, but nothing more. Memphis might be the best eight-seed ever. If everybody in S.A. is healthy, they crush Memphis anyway. Now, who knows?
Lakers vs. Dallas. We told you that final game with the Mavs was big. If the Lakers don’t win that one, they’re going to Dallas for Game Seven. Except, there won’t be anything remotely resembling a Game Seven. The Mavs are massively overrated. They’re actually older than the Lakers, and Jason Kidd is a ghost of his former self.
Make no mistake, Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Terry, and Shawn Marion are good – they’re just a peg below Kobe, Pau, and L.O. While Nowitzki and Tyson Chandler give them size to ball with Pau and a (fingers crossed) healthy ‘Drew Bynum, the Lakers still easily the better team in the paint. Then, add in what L.O. brings off the bench and the fact that Ron Ron will make Marion crazy.
What could go wrong in April: Uhh…Portland’s really deep, and they play well at home. Dallas will snuff them, but Portland’s really deep, and they play well at home. The Lakers pwned New Orleans before David West got hurt. If they lose anything other than (maybe) Game Three, they should be ashamed of…never mind.
Until then, put your feet up on the couch and have a cigar (but don’t do a Google image search for that phrase – trust us). Watch a couple NHL playoff games – those are always awesome.
Just don’t break a sweat. The Lakers certainly won’t either.