Sunday, April 25, 2010

Panic Switch! (Lakers Are in a Thunderstorm)

Right now, Lakers fans, it's time for us to start panicking. It doesn't matter that the series with the Thunder will go at least 6 games like I predicted, the Lakers are a dead team walking into a young buzzsaw.

I knew it'd go 6 because 1) the Thunder are a young, quick squad who'll run when they can, 2) have two matchup problems in Kevin Durant (26.8 ppg against us) and Russell Westbrook (21.8 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 5.3 dimes), 3) the Lakers just looked lost the final month and had zero bench. Not exactly what the defending champions should be doing to get ready to repeat. And so far every single point has been proven.

Most of us fans and the media urged the Lakers to flip on the switch and start playing like the champs. Now it's time for us to flip the panic switch because they are in trouble. Here's the biggest problems.

1) Somebody wake up Lamar Odom and tell him the playoffs started a week ago. The enigmatic Mr. Kardashian has been a non-factor in every game except Game 4 and he's been a sign of the Bench Mob going cold.

Odom is that player you'll never be satisfied with because he's inconsistent. His skill level is arguably Top 10 in the league but he plays like he's only in the Top 100. He needs to find a way to get inspired and fill up the stat sheet instead of his foul limit. There's no excuse he should only have one double-figure scoring game in this series.

2) Attack the Post. ATTACK THE POST!! ATTACK THE POST!!!! Did I say that enough? Good.

There is no excuse why Pau Gasol is only getting 12 shots a game. How a Top-5 forward gets that many good looks is unforgivable even with Kobe on your team. It should make things easier for him and even though Oklahoma City is blocking everything in sight, he's a mismatch problem that needs to be used more often.

Andrew Bynum has been decent in his first games back so I say feed him too. But give Gasol/Bynum credit on the boards and the blocks. They just need more work on offense.

3) Kobe's not right. And I've heard every excuse in the book but the fact is the Black Mamba is playing injured and it shows in his shooting numbers.

Mamba's averaging over 20 shots a game despite a bad finger and bad knees. I like what Charles Barkley said, he oughta be making it easier to get his shots like he knows how to instead of forcing it.

He's an old 31 because he has 14 years of NBA mileage (plus 13 years in the playoffs - 6 Finals appearances - and three years of Olympic commitment). At the same time, he's still playing at a high level so you can't blame him for wanting to save his team and win. But right now, he has to find a way to challenge his team instead of himself.

4) Lack of urgency. I don't have to say anymore on this. The Lakers don't want this as much as the Thunder - OKC knows they have nothing to lose because in 2-3 years, they're going to own the West with Portland. This is just having fun and gaining experience while the Lakers just look unmotivated and ready to wake up. See Mr. Kardashian as an example.

The series will be won in the half-court, in the post. The Lakers are on the ropes and it's time for them to come strong like Muhammad Ali did. No more hoping and wishing, they have to play with intensity and tomorrow night's Game 5 is a must win or else we're gonna play the Silversun Pickups and look like this:

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