In a season of disappointment and inconsistency, the Lakers have only five games left in their regular season. It seems like only yesterday, the Lakers were starting the first day of training camp with expectations of another championship banner being raised in Staples Center. Now, the Lakers find themselves on the outside looking in at upcoming postseason play. With the postseason looming, the Lakers must play like they’re already in the playoffs.
There are five keys to Lakers extending their season into the postseason:
The Lakers must commit to playing inside-out. I cannot figure out why the Lakers fail to run their offense through Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol on a consistent basis. Is it Kobe’s stubbornness or Mike D’Antoni’s inability to maximize size over spacing, or a combination of both? Whatever the issues are, the Lakers have a luxury no other team has— two seven footers (Dwight’s 6-10, but close enough), and running the offense through these two guys would give D’Antoni the floor spacing he so desperately covets.
Kobe Bryant has to be the team’s main facilitator, not Steve Nash. Nash is out with a hip injury, but when he returns he should play off the ball. The Lakers’ offense seems to run better when Kobe has the ball in his hands and Steve more aggressive offensively. Nash’s career field goal shooting percentage (49%) is too good to go to waste on this team so the Lakers need him and Kobe to switch places to be successful.
The Lakers need to win all five games! The Lakers have teased fans all season with their mini win streaks, only to be followed by bad losses. With only five games remaining, the Lakers must end the season on a five game winning streak. The Lakers cannot afford to lose one game! To add insult to injury, the Lakers have not won both games in a “back to back” this season and now would be as good a time as any to start. The Lakers need to win tonight against New Orleans and go up to the Rose Garden, where wins have been hard to come by, and beat Portland tomorrow night. A win at Portland would be a huge boost for the team, but a loss at home to the Hornets would be as equally devastating.
Play solid team defense! If this was a video game, perhaps Dwight Howard could play all five positions on defense, but it’s not and he can’t. In good wins, the Lakers talked to each other on defense, but in bad losses, they argued, fussed, and looked absolutely lost. In these last games, all Lakers must commit to helping each other and rotating on D. When the Lakers do this, they are unbeatable! If the Lakers can’t meet the defensive challenges, they will have an early start to working on defense for next season.
Hope and pray the Utah Jazz lose. The Lakers control their own destiny if they win, but why not hope the worst for Utah in the process. The Jazz play the Thunder tonight so let’s hope the Thunder rain on the Jazz’s parade.