The NBA playoffs might not begin until next week but the playoff posturing began weeks ago. All you have to do is look at how the San Antonio Spurs walked through the West Coast this past week to know that they’re out to remind everyone just who the top team in the conference is. L.A. got a double dose of that sickening medicine from the Spurs and now they’ve got Oklahoma City to deal with Sunday.
While the Lakers were without Kobe Bryant during the playoff push they still managed to maintain their status as third in the West. But being content to stay above the Clippers isn’t enough. Mike Brown needs to get a signature win before the playoffs begin.
So far the Lakers have been anything but a title contender when you take a microscope to their season. They’ve had some impressive wins over good competition but have failed to handle business against the elite in their conference. Just one against four losses to the Spurs and Thunder combined.
Simple logic tells you that you can’t win a title if you can’t win your own conference.
Perhaps when the second season actually begins things will be different. But hoping for that to happen, leaving it up to chance is a sure way to secure failure. No, the Lakers need to beat OKC on Sunday. They need to author the signature win of the season. What better timing than right before the playoffs too?
Now even if the Lakers do handle the Thunder it won’t mean they’ve got a leg up on the league’s up and coming team. But it will provide a blueprint of some sort. If nothing else it creates a reference point for Kobe and the coaching staff to remind the team of should they see the same squad again. Besides, the facts are what they are. And the fact of the matter is you’ve got to go through San Antonio and Oklahoma City to get to the Finals.
This is the last and best opportunity for the Lakers to make a lasting impression before the playoffs begin. Come the playoffs all the regular season stuff becomes irrelevant. This is also true. Still, the Lakers need to prove to themselves that they can compete with the Western elite. Today is the last chance to do.