After such a tumultuous season, the 2012-13 Los Angeles Lakers with a starting lineup consisting of Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol, and Dwight Howard have managed to will their way into the playoffs having secured the 7th seed and a first round matchup with the San Antonio Spurs. This season was likely the most difficult, frustrating, and emotionally draining season for many, if not all, of the Lakers.
Despite the up’s and down’s of this season however, the Lakers managed to will their way into the playoffs winning a rather favorable matchup against the sliding San Antonio Spurs. San Antonio is 3-7 in their last 10 games dating back to their final game in March. They also have been dealing with injuries as of late to Manu Ginobili and their star Tony Parker, which have clearly affected their performance as of late. Facing a beat up Spurs team is the best matchup in the West that Los Angeles could have asked for, as San Antonio isn’t young or fast enough to run LA out of the building much like OKC could do.
This brings me to what these playoffs actually mean for the Los Angeles Lakers, more than just winning and attempting to make a deep run. These playoffs could truly decide the future of the Lakers and what should happen to them after this season is over. Without their fearless leader, Kobe Bryant, this years playoff team lacks a huge component, so big in fact many fans doubt their chances to even move past the first round. Without Kobe, Los Angeles’ journey will certainly be more difficult, but it won’t be impossible, not if certain players step up and try to fill those shoes. This years playoffs could decide whether Dwight resigns, this years playoffs could decide what the Lakers front office does about Kobe Bryant, it could be the difference between the Lakers being a decent team for years to come, or a great one.
I’m pointing my finger directly at Dwight Howard.
Dwight Howard’s time to show LA what he’s all about, and what he is truly capable of is right now. If he wants fan support, front office support, and an overall sense of accomplishment, he’ll put his best games on the court now for the playoffs. Dwight has said the weight shouldn’t fall all on his shoulders, and he’s right, but a large amount of it should because Dwight is a superstar and he needs to perform like one. As of late, him and Pau Gasol have found that elusive chemistry they had longed for since the start of the season. This tandem out on the court is hard to beat especially when they’re playing at their best, an example would be the Lakers last win of the season against the Houston Rockets, Pau and Dwight combined for 38 rebounds, with Pau achieving a triple-double.
The Lakers will have to rely heavily on their front court because of the injuries to their backcourt of Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant. Granted, Steve Blake and Jodie
Meeks have stepped up to fill the void, there’s only so much they can do. With Pau and Dwight at their best, and the rest of the Lakers role players stepping up, Los Angeles will be a difficult opponent for anyone in the Western Conference.
This year means more than just winning to win. This year means winning for the late Dr. Buss. This year means winning for Kobe Bryant, who did all he could to get the Lakers to this point in the season before that untimely achilles tear. This year means winning for the fans of the Los Angeles Lakers who have stuck by the side of the Lakers since the start despite this roller coaster of a season. Dwight’s moment to step into the bright spotlight of Los Angeles is right now, and he couldn’t ask for a better moment.
We can’t predict the future or what will happen at the end of the season, we can only plan for right now and right now is the time to take action. This year will test the will power of the Lakers without their fearless leader being able to build up their spirits in times of hardship, but they’ve shown what they’re capable of these past couple games without him. Here’s to a deep run LakerNation, let’s go.