Sunday, April 23, 2006

Setting the tone 

Well, game one of the Suns/Lakers series just ended. Nothing surprising. Pretty much went as expected. Which is to say, the Suns won despite a late surge from LA.

You really really really have to wonder what some of these "analysts" are thinking picking the Lakers to win this series. If we were playing Denver, the Clippers, Sacramento, or even Dallas, I'd pick the Kobes. However, the Lakers have done nothing this season to prove that they can hang with Phoenix. Our defense is nowhere near consistent enough to keep up with the Suns' manic pace. Kwame Brown has played well down the stretch, but he can hardly be counted on, game-in-game-out, to impose his presence down low. His game simply isn't there yet. Unless Steve Nash goes down, we're toast.

The Lakers are so bad at defending the perimeter that the only way the Suns lose this series is if they shoot their way out of it. The Lakers shoot 58% in the first quarter and were still down by 10 at the end of it. Teams who shoot the three as well as Phoenix does don't lose many when they are consistently getting wide open looks at the basket.

Now, that being said, Lamar Odom had a strong game. Kwame was a contributor and Luke Walton really stepped it up. It was actually Kobe of all people who couldn't establish a rhythm. Particularly in the fourth quarter.

Credit the Lakers for coming back from 14 points down and making it interesting, but I can't help but feel they tied it up by accident. That is to say, Phoenix wasn't hitting any 3s in the 2nd and 3rd quarter. I'm not convinced that the Lakers made any significant adjustments. Bizarre that Kobe didn't take over in the 4th. That's something I would've bet on after it was tied 75-75 after three quarters.

Tim Thomas killed us with open basket after wide open basket. Lakers are a year away from being able to beat the Suns in a seven-game series. Hopefully our fortunes are better on Wednesday. You can bet that Kobe will erupt for some big points, but will he be able to get his teammates as involved as they were today? But that's always the quandry. Bryant gets his teammates involved and you have the chance he doesn't have a rhythm. If he goes for 40, you have guys standing around. Their best chance in this series is keeping the rest of the Lakers pounding the soft Suns D rather than relying on just Kobe. Regardless, you still expect your best player (the league's best player) to show up in crunch time. Especially against a team that has as much difficulty closing out games as the Suns do. Sheesh, I haven't seen such a lack of killer instinct from an "elite" team in a very long time.

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