The L. A. Lakers are just 7 games away from entering into the playoffs. They might finish their 66 games as third seeded in the Western Conference behind Thunders and Spurs making the first round of their playoffs easier. But there are some things which Lakers need to look into if they are to advance deeper into the playoffs. Here are the ten things that, not given due importance, could jeopardize their chances of adding seventeenth title to their kitty.
1o. Offense and Defense need to click together – When Mike Brown was appointed as the head coach of Lakers, he made it clear that he will restructure the team into a solid defensive unit. In the starting of the season, Lakers was indeed a strong defensive unit giving on an average 93 points. But gradually the team started to cross 100 points mark in the offense and also started to give more points in the defense (an average close to 100). What the team needs is to click their offense and defense together to reach
more deeper in the playoffs.
9. Bench Strength – All the Lakers fans here face it our team has got one of the worst bench in the NBA. Matt Barnes is indeed scoring in double digit in every game. Apart from him none of Steve Black, Troy Murphy, McRoberts are scoring comfortably. No points for guessing why Lakers are losing their leads in most of the games. It’s not that they can’t compete at that level. In today’s match against Spurs, the Lakers bench was a totally different unit. They were scoring at will and penetrating deep down. In all the
bench has to play all the games like today if Lakers are to move past the playoffs stage.
8. A more Mature Bynum – Much has been said about this recently. Seeing the 30 rebounds against Spurs today, it is not hard to see why Bynum is the centerpiece of Lakers quest for the ring. Bynum has the capability of making every defense look bleak. So, all that is required of Bynum is that he remain calm and focused on and off the court. He is a potential All-Star after all!
7. Excess Shots Of Kobe – Kobe is indeed the highest scorer in the league. But his achievement is somewhat belittled by the fact that he is taking too much shots during the games. Approximately 28 shots per game and he is converting a mere 43% of them. His lowest conversion rate since his rookie years. It would have been good had there been no other scorer in the team. But it is not the case. Lakers have got two biggies in the form of Gasol and Bynum who can also score comfortably. The excess of Bryant shots needs to get distributed among Bynum and Gasol, both of whom can make shots penetrating deep into the opposition defense.
6. On the Road Record – One of the biggest concerns this season has been the Lakers road record. It is 14-16, not by any means even an average record. In the first round they can well get the home court advantage. But in the subsequent rounds they have to travel outside the Staples Centre and need to defeat the likes of Thunder, Spur. This is made difficult by the fact that other teams of the Western Conference like Thunder and Spurs have a splendid home court record. So, Lakers must need to find an end to their on the road woes.
5. Big Men Advantage – When you have two of the league’s biggest players, it is natural you will take advantage of them. Gasol and Bynum are two such players who can penetrate deep into the opposition defense and play along the ring splendidly. Lakers need to take advantage of their big men if they are to move past the playoffs stage.
4. The Experience Factor – Lakers are being dubbed as a team of elders. But with age comes wisdom. Bryant, Gasol, Metta World Piece have won NBA rings together before. So, they know what it takes to be a champion. They have the experience to go out and demolish their opponents in the playoffs situation. All they need to is get their acts together and play as an unit.
3. Pau Gasol – The importance of Pau Gasol need not be described. He helped the Lakers reach 3 NBA finals winning 2 of them. In the words of Kobe Bryant he is the most unselfish player in the league. Bryant added that he has not seen any other player giving a chance to other player to improve his statistics on the cost of his. Well Gasol that’s you! Gasol’s number would have been way higher save for his unselfish passing the ball to Bryant or Bynum or sharing the rebounds with Bynum. It doesn’t matter to him as long as his team wins. That’s a true sportsman.
2. Mike Brown should get a grip on the team – Be it the benching of Kobe or the recent antics of Bynum, what is common in the incidents is the handling of the situation by head coach Mike Brown. Mike Brown should take a cue from his predecessor, Phil Jackson, what it takes to handle a champion team and champion players. When asked to Phil how he would have handled the latest Bynum drama, he said without delay that firstly he would have had a talk with Bynum and tried to understand the differences. Sorry Brown, you are not Phil Jackson after all!
1. A healthy Kobe – To be precise Lakers cannot move past the playoff without Kobe Bryant. Presently Kobe has missed 3 games on the trot due to his shin injury. And the good news is that the injury is not that severe to force him to sit out for a long period of time. He might as well get the much needed rest. Lakers has done reasonably well (2-1) in the absence of league’s highest scorer. But the
conditions of playoffs will be vastly different and Lakers need someone like Bryant to sail them through.
He is our Black Mamba after all!!
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