With the season winding down, the Lakers are gearing up for the playoffs. The team is in top form and firing on all cylinders. With an impressive stretch run, the Lakers have cast aside all doubt that they will repeat as champions again in 2010.
After heartily defeating sub-.500 opponents, the Lakers have also had consistent success against future playoff contenders, indicating the likelihood of the season extending well into June again. It appears obvious now that the Artest/Ariza swap played out perfectly for the Lakers and the current rotation is doing an excellent job of balanced scoring.
The “Bench Mob” has also been a bright spot for the Lakers of late, with the starters frequently getting to sit for the entire fourth quarter of many recent games. “The Machine” has found his stroke once again, and the young back court has proven to be adept at penetrating and not settling for the outside shot.
Bynum has finally shaken his “injury-prone” moniker and played an acceptable percentage of the season. After barely missing the all-star game, this up-and-coming star proved night after night that he has truly come into his own and gives 100% effort at both ends of the floor.
Let’s hope L.A. is ready for another parade this summer, because it’s all but certain the team will repeat.
If someone had approached me at the all-star break and asked me to write something about the Lakers to post in April, it would have likely looked something like the above. I think I expected greatness from a team that has delivered greatness so many times before. We all expected it, didn’t we?
Now that the season really is winding down, the ugly truth has shown its head. The team has no chemistry, the bench contributes little to nothing at all, “The Machine” has been in the shop all year, and key injuries have exposed just how shallow the team really is.
Spending so much money and putting so much responsibility on star players has left the team with an amazingly talented starting group that can’t seem to play together and a sorely lacking bench that ALSO can’t seem to play together.
Each possession makes me cringe as I wonder how on earth they’re going to manage to either turn the ball over or take a forced shot. Each defensive possession makes me cringe as I wonder who is going to make the mental mistake of either leaving a shooter wide open on the perimeter or allowing a screen/roll to open up the middle for a drive by a guard or quick pass to a big man for a high percentage look. It doesn’t even bother me to write a run-on sentence to explain the awful basketball we’ve seen. Just awful.
The Lakers can still win. There’s no doubt about that. No one is silly enough to count them out, regardless of how poorly they’ve played lately. But seriously… at what point do we start to panic that there isn’t a “switch” that they can turn on when the playoffs arrive?