Tag Archives: Playoffs

Better Team For Lakers to Face in Playoffs?

Image from google

Image from google

By Kevin R. Linares

With the Lakers beating the Chicago Bulls last weekend they have managed to do what many said they would not do. The Lakers sneaked into the playoffs, but the 8th playoff spot is still up for grabs. If the Lakers and the Utah Jazz win their next few games, they will go back and forth switching spots at 8th and 9th in the West.

There are four things that can happen for Los Angeles. First, the Lakers can get pushed out of the playoffs, disappointing their fans while opposing fans enjoy Lakerless playoffs which has not happened since the 2004-05 season when the the team roster included Stanislav Medvedenko, Chucky Atkins, Chris Mihm and lets stop there. The second, the Lakers just manage to hold on to the 8th and final playoff spot. Third, they move on up to the 7th playoff spot and fourth they somehow manage to have an incredible run and finish the season at the 6th spot.

Now assuming that the Lakers do stay in the playoffs who will they have to play in the 1st round? Not too long ago, Kobe Bryant said, in an interview with Jack McCallum from Sports Illustrated, “It’s not a question of if we make the playoffs. We will,” adding “And when we get there, I have no fear of anyone–Oklahoma City, San Antonio, Denver…whoever. I have zero nervousness about that.” A confident answer by Kobe indeed and so far his vow to make the playoffs is very well on track. Unfortunately, this is the Western Conference and although Kobe can be very convincing with his answers and confidence, the conference is full of difficult teams to get past.

Now it is pretty safe to say that the three possible opponents for the Lakers are the San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Clippers and the Oklahoma City Thunder. Regardless of who it ends up being the Lakers will definitely have their hands full. All of these match ups will be very entertaining. The Battle of LA vs. the Clippers, the Rematch of the 2012 Western Conference Semi-Finals vs. the Thunder and   a series that would include two teams that together have won 9 out of the last 14 NBA championships vs. the Spurs.

Lakers vs. Spurs

11/13     SAS @ LAL     84-82         Loss
1/09      LAL @ SAS     105-108     Loss
4/14      SAS @ LAL     Next Game

In both games the Lakers were missing key players and their coach. In the first game Nash was out with a small fracture to his leg and the Lakers were waiting on coach Mike D’Antoni who was replacing  Mike Brown after being fired just five games into the regular season. In the second game they were without three of their big men. Dwight Howard with a shoulder injury, Pau Gasol with a concussion and Jordan hill with injuries to his hip and back. In both games the Lakers bench had trouble contributing but the bench has now improved. Considering that the Lakers were shorthanded on both nights and managed to only lose by two in one game and three points in the other, it has to be a good sign. L.A. and San Antonio play each other one last time in the regular season on April 14 at the Staples Center.

Lakers vs. Thunder

12/07    LAL @ OKC     105-122      Loss
1/11       OKC @ LAL     116-101       Loss
1/27      OKC @ LAL     96-105        Win
3/05      LAL @ OKC     105-122      Loss

In the win the Lakers’s bench was a big factor, which had Gasol and Jodie Meeks in double digits. Russel Westbrook did not go off only scoring 17 points, and do not get me wrong, to say someone had an off night and only scored 17 points is scary. In the three losses the Lakers had, Russel Westbrook was a monster scoring 27, 33 and 37. Lakers were missing Pau Gasol in all three of the losses and Jordan Hill in two.

Lakers vs. Clippers

11/02     LAC @ LAL     105-95         Loss
1/04       LAL @ LAC     102-107       Loss
2/14       LAC @ LAL     125-101        Loss
4/07      LAL @ LAC     Next Game

In all games either the Lakers or Clippers had a key injury whether it being Chauncey Billups, Grant Hill for the Clippers or Steve Nash, Pau Gasol for the Lakers. The Clippers proved to be one of the NBA’s deepest teams and had too much firepower for the Lakers. The Lakers bench played well in both games and need to continue if they were to meet. In the one game Gasol played he was not a factor and would need to be aggressive offensively if he is healthy when and if they meet. The next game between the L.A. teams will be on April 7th, an away game for the Lakers.

Looking at the results of the games that have been played the Lakers should try to avoid all three teams, but obviously that is not happening. The Clippers are the team I would have to say should be avoided as long as possible for the Lakers. The Clippers as I mentioned before have too much depth and firepower. If the Lakers continue to build their chemistry, stay healthy and look to play better defense maybe they can pull it off but it will be very tough to do so. Perhaps if they can win the first round against one of the other two teams and hopefully getting Gasol back only helps the Lakers, they will be better suited.

The Oklahoma City Thunder is a scary team, but even more scary when Westbrook is on fire. The Lakers can beat the Thunder and the key for them to do it is to try to contain Westbrook from going off. To beat the Thunder, L.A. would also hope to get Gasol back and hopefully he resumes his roll off the bench because that will be where they need him most. The only win the Lakers had vs. OKC in the regular was with Gasol giving a boost to the bench and with Westbrook scoring under 20 points. Athleticism will also be a big factor, one the Thunder will most likely win playing an older team in the Lakers.

Under Gregg Popovich the Spurs have been impressive for what seems forever. They are always under the radar and not given the respect they deserve. The Lakers in both regular season meetings with the Spurs could have won and ended in a shot for the tie by the Lakers that did not go down. The last regular season match up between the two will be a very important test because the team had major issues during the first two meetings and  those issues seem to now have been somewhat dealt with. The Lakers will have an important size advantage and even more so if Gasol is back in time. I believe their size will be the key to win this series.

So who is it the Lakers would have a better chance of beating in the 1st round? Spurs and Thunder are the teams that the Lakers will have a better chance at beating if they were to meet in the playoffs. From the Thunder and Spurs? San Antonio. Judging by the close games with a shorthanded team, if the Lakers can keep improving their chemistry, defense and bring back Gasol in time with him being effective, they can pull an upset over the Spurs. Obviously all this will be a tough ride but what a story it will make if the Lakers were to pull it off. What team do you believe the Lakers have a better chance at beating in the first round if they do end up in the playoffs?

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Filed under 2013 Playoffs Talk

Lakers Take 8th Spot, Can They Hold On?Move Up?

Image from ESPN

Image from ESPN

It seems like it was just yesterday when Charles Barkley would roll his eyes and say that the Los Angeles Lakers would not make the playoffs this year. Fans were losing hope, waiting for Mitch Kupchak to have yet another trick up his sleeve. Many opposing fans were enjoying their time as they watched the team they despise have a terrible season.

The Lakers have finally set a foot inside of the 2013 playoffs after defeating the Chicago Bulls, who sit at the 5th spot in the East, at the Staples Center 90 to 81. This time there was no dramatic comeback as the Lakers led and had control of the game most of the way. After a great performance by Kobe Bryant against the Toronto Raptors, he did not score 40 or 30 points. This win was an overall team effort, which is what the Lakers will need the most if they stay in the playoffs.

It was a convincing win by the Lakers over the Bulls with a total of six players in double digits. Kobe led the way with 19 points  and 9 assists. Both Dwight Howard and Steve Nash had 16 points each. Metta World Peace added 12 points and Earl Clark seemed to have found his groove again having 11 points. From the bench it was Jodie Meeks who delivered 10 points. With the win the Lakers are now half a game in front of the Utah Jazz.

The Utah Jazz have fallen out of the playoffs but they have not said goodbye. They are still in position to take their playoff spot back. The Lakers need to continue winning to avoid finding themselves outside of the playoffs again. Los Angeles can also look to maybe go up to the 6th or 7th seed. The Houston Rockets are currently at the 7th seed only a game ahead of the Lakers while the Golden State Warriors are the the 6th spot, just two games ahead. The Warriors and Rockets both have their next games at home. Warriors play the New York Knicks and the Rockets take on the Phoenix Suns.

Lakers take the floor again when they visit Dwight’s formal team, the Orlando Magic on Tuesday. It will definitely be interesting to see the reception Dwight will receive from the fans. Will Dwight receive a Lebron James type of reception when he returned to Cleveland? Or will Dwight receive a reception that is better or worse?

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Filed under 2013 Playoffs Talk, Lakers 2013 season

Best Western Conference Playoff Picture?

By Kevin Linares

The NBA playoffs are among us and it is always fun to look at all the possible and more entertaining match ups that we basketball fans can all hope for.  Of course every fan is going to want to see their team battling it out in the playoffs but what story lines will be the best? What teams offer interesting match ups? Will old friends become foes? Those questions will be answered here.

Lets start off by looking at what teams are seeded in the playoffs as of today.

Team

Record

Games Back

Conf. Record

Streak

 1.  San Antonio

48-15

26-10

Lost 1

 2.  Oklahoma City

46-16

1.5

31-9

Won 4

 3.  LA Clippers

44-20

4.5

27-12

Lost 1

 4.  Memphis

41-19

5.5

21-13

Won 3

 5.  Denver

41-22

7

27-11

Won 7

 6.  Golden State

35-28

13

19-19

Won 2

 7.  Houston

34-29

14

15-21

Won 1

 8.  Utah

32-30

15.5

18-19

Lost 3


The top five seeded teams which include the Spurs, Thunder, Clippers, Memphis and Denver seem to be locked in the playoffs. The only thing that can really change there is teams moving higher or lower in the playoffs. The last three however can still be up for grabs if the Lakers, who are currently in 9th place, half a game behind the Utah Jazz, continue to chase after a playoff spot.

The Golden State Warriors can still fall out of the playoffs if they lose a large amount of the games they have left and the Jazz, Rockets, and Lakers win enough to push them out of the playoffs. The Warriors falling out of the playoffs seems unlikely. The Rockets have been looking better recently and are currently in the 7th spot, 2 games ahead of the Lakers. The Utah Jazz are at the 8th spot right now, the final playoff spot. Both the Houston Rockets and Utah Jazz are very reachable and can be knocked out of the playoffs making space for Los Angeles.

Now off to what can be a possible Western conference picture filled with story lines.

 1. Oklahoma City vs.  8. Houston
 2. LA Clippers      vs.  7. LA Lakers
 3. San Antonio     vs.  6. Golden State
 4. Denver            vs.  5. Memphis

I have Oklahoma City and the LA Clippers taking advantage of Tony Parker’s absence with the Spurs, bringing them down to the 3rd spot. The Lakers do not just make the playoffs but make it to the 7th seed after a season that could be looked at one of their worst in terms of early expectations and star power. Houston Rockets end up just making the playoffs and the Utah Jazz fall out of the playoffs.

Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Houston Rockets

A match that will certainly have many people turn on their televisions to watch James Harden take on the team that traded him breaking up their young core of Harden, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. The Houston Rockets are a young team with great offensive power taking on a Thunder team determined to return to the finals once again but leave home with the trophy this time. Houston will have a tough time taking on the Thunder but I see an exciting match up with Harden’s scoring and showing the Thunder why they should not have traded him. Oklahoma City should be able to win this match up with Kevin Durant leading them and the caged tiger in Westbrook coming out to show how deadly he can be.

LA Clippers vs. LA Lakers

The battle for Los Angeles, the match up that everyone is wanting to see. Chris Paul takes on the team he should have been on to try to show what team runs Los Angeles. Kobe Bryant will show why they call him the “Black Mamba” and why his new nickname “vino’ should stick. Lakers might have the home court advantage at the 7th seed in this series unless the Clipper fans turnout to show if L.A. bleeds red or purple and gold. The Lakers will have their hands full taking on one of the deepest teams, if not the deepest team in the NBA. With the injuries the Lakers have been suffering will they be able to keep up? Will Pau Gasol be healthy enough to play? Will Dwight Howard show he was worth trading for? Will the Clippers finally dethrone the Lakers in L.A. and get their hands on a championship? Can the Lakers honor one of the greatest owners in all of sports in Jerry Buss by shocking the world and doing what many thought was ridiculous and impossible? Who will win the battle of Los Angeles? We will just have to wait and see if it happens.

San Antonio Spurs vs. Golden State Warriors

The Spurs have been atop the elite in the NBA for quite sometime and year after year they go unnoticed. Golden State started the season off right but are showing inconsistency  as the season gets closer to the playoffs. Stephen Curry has been impressive after his All Star snub and would like to continue to show why he should have been chosen. Tony Parker is not mentioned as a MVP as much as he should be and plans on showing why he should be. Will the Warriors make some noise and challenge the veteran Spurs with one of the best if not the best coach in the NBA right now in Greg Popovich? Mark Jackson has not been doing so bad himself as coach and his Warriors will try to show the NBA that they are something to look out for in the future.

Denver Nuggets vs. Memphis Grizzlies

The two dark horses in the Western conference will be something exciting to watch. Memphis, with the big headline trade of Rudy Gay earlier in the season has much to prove. Denver has been a fast paced and exciting team to watch but are without an actual superstar to lead the team. Both teams lack a leader that can be the one taking those 4th quarter shots especially in the playoffs but have plenty of players willing to step up to the plate. There is only room for one dark horse this time. The question is which one will come out of this series?

The headlines and match ups are there but will they happen? For the basketball fans out there, the answer should be and probably is hopefully so. The West will have another exciting playoffs as they have been so many times in the past. The East seems to lack the competition to draw the attention the West can. The Heat have been impressive winning 15 straight games. The Pacers are there to give them a challenge but the Heat definitely look too big of a challenge for them. Who do you think will come out of the West to represent and possibly win it all? It is up for grabs.

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Filed under 2013 Playoffs Talk