Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Reality's a Trip and the Fall is Hard
You know that feeling you get when your best just isn't good enough. That's what I'm feeling right now about the Lakers, who are down 0-2 for the first time since the 2008 NBA Finals. Just the mere mention of bringing that up is hard to swallow because that's the last time I felt like this team was overmatched.
I'm seeing Dirk Nowitzki have his way and pick his spots with no counter. I'm seeing Tyson Chandler neutralize one Lakers big man at a time each game. I saw JJ Barea in Game 2 and got flashbacks of Phoenix's Goran Dragic from Game 4 in last year's Western Conference Finals with how he sliced and diced through our defense in the 4th quarter.
Most of all I'm seeing a Lakers bench that can't keep up with Dallas. I'm seeing a Lakers team confused and bewildered. Sad of all, I'm seeing a Lakers team settle for outside shots, the ultimate sign of a team that has no clue what to do against a better team. And to top it off, Artest got ejected. Word to Phife Dawg, I'm having problems.
This isn't the soft Dallas Mavericks. We aren't the dominant LA Lakers. The roles have reversed and I'm seeing a dynasty that looks shaken and old with a king who can't will a team to be better for some reason. I've known this feeling before and I'm not trying to deny it.
2004, I watched the Pistons outmuscle and out-tough the Lakers like I hadn't seen since Karl Malone and John Stockton in the 1998 Western Conference Finals. 2008, I saw the same thing happen with the Boston Celtics. I know this feeling but my heart won't let me give up. I just know that feeling you get when you know your team is in a deep hole.
Oh yeah, having Andrew Bynum say this team is having trust issues isn't helping either. It's not over but it's looking scary. And heading back to Dallas possibly without Ron Artest for a game, the odds aren't in our favor. I have faith but I'm also a realist.
We're seeing a changing of the guard in this playoffs. San Antonio's gone. Boston's in the same situation as the Lakers. Dallas is playing like the Spurs did in the regular season with the right balance of vets (J. Kidd), international stars (Dirk, Barea), bench (Terry, Barea, Haywood), youth/athleticism (Chandler, Barea) and size. Chicago, Miami and Oklahoma City are showing why they're going to be face of the next decade in the NBA.
Part of me though is still bugging out at how good Tyson Chandler has been this series. I grew up in high school seeing him as the biggest recruit ever and thinking he made a mistake going to the draft out of Compton Dominguez. 10 years later, we're both in our 20's and fulfilling some of the promise folks had for us back in 2001.
I'm just mixed about Friday because I'll be at a concert. The last time I attended a concert on a Lakers playoff game? Game 4 of the NBA Finals. Yeah, one of the worst games I've had to handle. I'm hoping that Prince isn't the only thing I'm celebrating that's wearing purple.
This could be the end or the start of something bigger. All my life, I've been a rational Lakers fan and I know when the hand we're dealt isn't a good one. Friday night's either gonna be a good night to be in Purple or an escape from reality sinking in.
Tonight was Dallas showing something extra that the Lakers haven't shown. The roles have reversed and it's not a pretty sight.