Posts Tagged ‘lakers’

The 2012-13 NBA season has concluded and the playoffs are on the near horizon.

Here are the Western Conference first round series:

(1) Oklahoma City Thunder vs (8) Houston Rockets

(2) San Antonio Spurs vs (7) LA Lakers

(3) Denver Nuggets vs (6) Golden State Warriors

(4) LA Clippers vs (5) Memphis Grizzlies

Breakdown and Predictions

(1) Thunder vs (8) Rockets:

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Almost one full year removed from the Thunder’s defeat at the hands of the Miami Heat in the 2012 NBA Finals, the Oklahoma City Thunder stand as the top contender and No. 1 seed in the Western Conference entering the 2013 playoffs.

Arguably, the biggest off-season move made in 2012 was the Thunder’s trade of James Harden to the Houston Rockets, after failing to reach an agreement to extend the sixth-man-of-the-year’s contract.

Harden has proven himself among the NBA’s elite, ranking fifth in points per game over the season at 25.9. On an interestingly ironic side-note, Harden scored a career-high 46 points against the Thunder Feb. 20th 2013.

The Rockets may need four of those games from Harden in order to pull out a series victory though.

The Thunder won the regular season series against the Rockets 2-1. Without any player capable of shutting down Kevin Durant, Houston will need to score 125 points a game this series to compete. I can see that happening possibly once at home, but that’s it.

Prediction – Thunder win series 4-1

(2) Spurs vs (7) Lakers:

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There’s something about this series that screams “coin toss.”

A month ago, this match-up would likely have been dubbed an “easy sweep” for the Spurs. However, with the Lakers winning five straight games entering the postseason and the Spurs losing seven of their last ten, LA isn’t looking quite as outmatched.

Even without Kobe Bryant (out with Achilles injury), the Lakers have had success shooting the ball and big men, Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol, have been solid.

The coin flip aspect of this series, I feel, stems from the feeling that both the Spurs’ bad recent play and the Lakers’ stellar recent play are both anomalies, that could swap back at any time.

Only because I think it would be humorous to see the Lakers advance without the help of Kobe Bryant, will I give the Lakers the benefit of the doubt.

Prediction – Lakers win series 4-3

(3) Nuggets vs (6) Warriors:

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With two of the up-and-coming teams in the West, this series between Denver and Golden State may be the most high-flying and action-packed.

Both the Nuggets and Warriors average over 100 points per game. Alternately, they both allow over 100 points per game, so prepare for some classic offensive battles.

Heading the Warriors’ offense will be rising star Stephen Curry, who just broke Ray Allen’s single season 3 point field goal record. Leading Denver will be Ty Lawson, Kenneth Faried, and Corey Brewer.

Denver won the regular season series 3-1 with the lone loss coming on the road 106-105. I anticipate similar results.

Prediction – Denver wins series 4-1

(4) Clippers vs (5) Grizzlies:

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This series is an intriguing one in that the L.A. Clippers are the poster children for in-your-face, highlight-reel style basketball, while the Memphis Grizzlies are the prototype for flying under the radar with consistency and defense.

The Grizzlies are first in the NBA in points allowed at just 89.4 points per game allowed. I doubt the Clippers will worry much as they tend to gravitate towards the high percentage shots (A.K.A. the alley oop)

Memphis has their work cut out for them. We’ll see if they can use their size and defense to slow the game and make the Clippers beat them with range. I expect they will.

Prediction – Clippers win series 4-2

There you have it. Enjoy the Western Conference first round match-ups.

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Jazz Lakers

After a heartbreaking loss to cross-town-rival L.A. Clippers, the Lakers are once again on the outside looking in as far as the playoffs are concerned.

That coveted eighth and final spot in the Western Conference playoff seedings is now held by the Utah Jazz, after they beat the Golden State Warriors on the road.

The Jazz hold a current half-game lead over the Lakers, which, because the Jazz own the tiebreaker between the two, is actually a 1 1/2 game lead. In other words, the Jazz’s proverbial destiny is in their own hands. Win out, and they’re in.

But, how likely is it that the Jazz win out? Not likely. However, the Lakers schedule is no treat either.

Jazz remaining schedule:

4/9 – vs Oklahoma City

4/12 – vs Minnesota

4/15 – at Minnesota

4/17 – at Memphis

Lakers remaining schedule:

4/9 – vs New Orleans

4/10 – at Portland

4/12 – vs Golden State

4/14 – vs San Antonio

4/17 – vs Houston

Mathematically, the Lakers need to win two more of their remaining games than the Jazz do. (i.e. if the Jazz win three of their four, the Lakers must win all five remaining games)

Looking at the Jazz’s remaining games against the Lakers’ remaining games, it seems highly unlikely that the Lakers get that spot back.

I would bet the Jazz end up winning three of their four games, with the lone loss coming against the Thunder at home.

This puts the Lakers in a terrible spot. Winning all five games is going to be nearly impossible. Nearly.

The two games I can see as the Lakers’ biggest issues are San Antonio and Houston.

The good news for LA is that both of those games are at home and both of those games are the last games of the season, which means both the Spurs and Rockets may be resting starters by then, as both of them have clinched their playoff spots.

The bad news, is that the Lakers aren’t exactly the most popular team in the NBA and it wouldn’t surprise me to hear that every team remaining on the Lakers’ schedule would love to play the “spoiler” role.

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The Lakers struggles this season have been front page news. How could they not be? With the additions of Steve Nash and Dwight Howard, the firing and hiring of Head Coaches Mike Brown and Mike D’Antoni, respectively, this season has commanded nothing short of top attention.

To the surprise of most, the Lakers’ off-season moves to bring in top offensive talent, Nash, and defensive talent, Howard, has not panned out. At least, not as far as wins go.

With a record of 20-26, the Lakers are currently 10th in the Western Conference and four games out of 8th.

No one, besides perhaps the Lakers fanbase, has taken these struggles harder than Kobe Bryant. Makes sense, considering Bryant may be one of the most proud players in the league. He has also seen more victories than most other players too.

It seems Kobe has had to learn a hard lesson; his selfish scorer ways have been not only unnecessary, but seemingly counter-productive. 21 times this season Bryant has scored 30+ points. The Lakers are 7-14 in those games and 13-12 in games when he scores under 30.

Recently, Kobe has taken on the role of not only scorer, but facilitator. Sound familiar?

Michael Jordan was not revolutionary because he could score. Wilt Chamberlain scored. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar scored. Jordan changed the game by the way he scored, passed AND rebounded, making his teammates better.

Without Phil Jackson around implementing his triangle offense, Kobe has turned over a new leaf, or at least the last four games. Bryant has averaged 11 assists per game the last four games, up from his career 4.7 per game average.

The Lakers record the last four games? 3-1.

Now we’ll see if Kobe can keep it up.

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What a year 2010 turned out to be in sports. From the Alabama Crimson Tide winning the national championship to the Giants winning the World Series.

2010 saw Tiger Woods’ first full calendar year without notching a single victory, neither in majors nor non-major events.

2010 was host to both the Winter Olympics in Vancouver and the World Cup in South Africa. Surprisingly, South Africa seemed to handle the role better with seemingly less to work with. Really, the only negative throughout the World Cup were those Vuvuzelas (they haunt my dreams).

2010 was the year of the media. Endless talk of where LeBron James would play the ’10-’11 season and beyond hijacked every sports radio station, column, channel, etc. until finally, it built up to “the Decision”, a poorly thought out plan by the LeBron James group to publicly announce his contract plans live on ESPN.

“The Decision” badly backfired when James chose against returning to Cleveland, where he was drafted 6 years ago, and left to play in Miami with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. The backlash was instant in Cleveland and soon even the media, which profited greatly from “the Decision” threw James under the bus, calling his actions classless, selfish, and pretty much all the things the audience was wanting to hear.

Nearing the end of the year, and with the season under way, many of the media are forgiving of James and are more focussed on his play on the court.

2010 was a shaky shaky year for college football. It started with expansion rumors out of the Big East and the Big 10. The Big 10 fired first, inviting Big 12 member Nebraska into their ranks. Nebraska accepted the invite. The PAC-10, not to be outdone, fired next. They invited Colorado, Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Texas A&M. Colorado was the only school to accept. They later invited the University of Utah, who gladly accepted.

BYU, being passed over and no longer sharing a conference tie with rival Utah, left for far greener pastures as an Independent in Division 1A football, and far browner pastures in everything else, joining the West Coast Conference in all other sports.

TCU left for the Big East, and the top half of the WAC in football shifted over to the Mountain West Conference, to fill the holes left by the power trio that had, for nearly a decade, ruled the top of the conference.

Cam Newton burst onto the scene, dominating all in his way to winning the Heisman trophy and leading the Auburn Tigers into the national championship game. Looming over his accomplishments, however, were allegations that he was involved in a pay for play scheme with his father and an agent. Cam was ruled eligible for lack of evidence that he knew anything about the scheme. Let’s hope 5 years from now that we don’t have another Reggie Bush situation.

2010 was the year of the pitcher in the MLB. Roy Halladay, Tim Lincecum, Cliff Lee, and numerous others were in the spotlight this season. The Giants’ pitching staff received praise all season and they showed why. Solid pitching and late season play from Rookie Buster Posey led the Giants into the playoffs and hot bats at perfect times in the World Series sealed the deal for them.

The Lakers won their 2nd straight title, beating the Celtics and avenging their 2008 defeat in the finals to that nearly identical Celtics team.

Jimmie Johnson won his 5th straight Sprint Chase for the Cup title in a row (first ever to do so).

The UConn women’s basketball team broke the once thought impossible win streak record of 88 wins, set by the UCLA men’s basketball team under coach John Wooden. The lady Huskies’ record ended at 90 games.

All in all, a very crazy year. Can’t wait to see what 2011 brings.