Thursday, May 14, 2009

Not This Year Either

Last year, the Los Angeles Lakers got to the NBA playoffs where they were manhandled by a faster, tougher, hungrier Boston Celtic team. This year they entered the playoffs the favorite to win it all, even over their likely finals opponent, LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Ain't gonna happen, I'm afraid. While Cleveland has dominated their first two series, winning every game by double digits, the Lakers stumbled through the first round against Utah and have pretty much come apart in the current round, being taken to a game 7 by a Houston Rockets team that has no business even being in the building with them. They are without their center and dominant scorer, Yao Ming, as well as Tracy McGrady and other players. The Lakers are taller and more talented. But Houston has beaten them twice at home, and once in the Lakers' building.

Tonight the Lakers could have closed out the series but they failed to do it, losing by 15 points. There are only so many times they can say that they've learned their lesson and will exert more effort. Maybe that wasn't the problem, but at this point, confidence will be. They may win this series, playing game 7 at home. But they will have their hands full with a rested and now more confident Denver Nuggets team. Unless the Lakers sweep that series, by the time they face Cleveland, they will be wishing they weren't. Especially since they won't have home court advantage in the finals.

This looks more and more like Cleveland's year, and the official ascendancy of LeBron James as the best player in the NBA, dethroning Kobe Bryant. It's possible this won't happen. But the Lakers don't look like a championship team right now, and they can't be feeling like it, either.

No comments: