True Hoops

True Hoops

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The End

Shocking is a word that comes to mind.

No, isn't that shocking that the Laker lost this series.
It's more shocking that they devolved into something so sub-standard.

Deserving is another word that comes to mind.

What do you expect when an over confident/decadent team faces a hungry and gritty team?
What do you expect when a bunch of talented individuals play a team on a mission?
What do you expect when a team with seemingly no offensive or defensive game plan (and certainly no continuity) plays a team that is focused and has every member playing their role to perfection?

Yes, the Lakers deserved to lose.
The mavericks clearly deserved to win.
The question is, how did the Lakers get to this point?

Puzzlingly, they showed no emotion or sense of urgency throughout this series.
It was if they felt that they could simply win just by showing up.
Talk about having no sense of reality.

What happened to Kobe?
Where was his usual over the top dramatics? Where was his patented snarl look?
Contrast his demeanor and philosophy to that of Dirk and the Mavs.
Dirk has openly stated that he is "desperate" to get back to the finals.
Kobe on the other hand, after going down 0-2 in the series clearly stated that the Lakers were "not desperate."

Now I know Kobe is a 5-time NBA champion and I like it when Kobe plays it cool.
But too cool?
What did he do to back up his words in game 3?
He showed no emotion, unless you count giving Derek fisher a cool looking pound and hugging Shannon Brown.
No Snarls, just smiles.
17 points on 16 shots?
Where was he the last five minutes of the game?
With all do respect to Lamar Odom, why was he taking the last shots in the game?

And speaking of taking shots, did the Lakers have any offensive game plan?
It certainly seemed, especially in today's closeout game, that everyone was just out there just jacking up shots. No wonder they supposedly had "trust issues."

After going down 0-3, Kobe said "call me crazy, but I still think we're going to win this series."
I know at that point, there was nothing else he could say.
Of course he had to say that because you always play to win.
Who knows if he really believed it, but if he did.....
Then Kobe, you're crazy.
But that's okay, that's what like about you.

Oddly enough, today was reminiscent of the last time the Lakers lost in the playoffs, when they got smacked by the Celtics in game 6 of the '08 finals.

And speaking of the past, last year everyone said LeBron quit.
Additionally, everyone then said that if Kobe were to lose, at least he would go down swinging (and taking shots).
Well let's be fair. That certainly didn't appear to be the case here.

But this certainly isn't only about Kobe.
Does anyone know what happened to Pau Gasol?
Don't get me wrong, even at Gasol's best, Dirk Nowitzki is still better.
But what was going on?
Did something happen?
Something in the locker room?

Something was wrong.

Something was really wrong and it all came apart at the seams.
By the end of this series, the Lakers no longer looked like a team.
The lack of emotion, toughness, and togetherness for the two-time defending champs just seemed bizarre.

Not to mention the defensive helplessness lack of basketball IQ.
Who would have guessed that the Lakers would have no answer for Jose Barea?
When Chris Paul torched them in the first round, we assumed it's because it was Chris Paul.
Apparently not.
The Lakers had no answers for Barea's speed and looked clueless on pick and roll defense.

Question. Why were ALL of the Lakers defenders playing up on Barea?
Another question. Why were the Lakers trying to fight over the top of the picks set for him?
EVERY TIME they did these things, Barea would either get all the way to the basket on a blow-by, OR they would have to double or send help defense leaving a shooter open.

They couldn't have made any adjustments? Not one?
They couldn't have maybe tried going underneath the screens and making Barea beat them on perimeter jump shots?

Speaking of leaving shooters open.
It was incredulous to me how Lakers could leave Dirk Nowtizki open, not once, not twice, but three times in a row to start game 3 - a nice little 9-0 run for the Mavs. What took the cake was that they had the brilliant idea of leaving Nowitzki in order to double Jason Kidd! What did they think would happen?
Leaving the Mavs best player - the best player in the series, one of the best players in the world - WIDE OPEN, three possessions in a row!? That's unacceptable for my high school team, let alone the Lakers.

And what about today?
They couldn't at least get a hand up on Terry and Stojakavic?
It wasn't so much that those guys were hitting every three they took, it was that a majority of the threes they took were WIDE OPEN. Again, a lot of that was do to their out right incompetency to guard the pick and roll. But it was also clear that effort was lacking.

And then of course to top it off, the Lakers showed no class at the end.
Not with Odom and Bynum both trying to demolish and hurt Nowitzki and Barea, respectively.

Now, I knew the Mavs were a tough match-up for the Lakers.
I clearly stated that I wouldn't be shocked if they came out of the west.
But I didn't think they would sweep the Lakers.
But you know what?
Good for them.

So what is next for the Lakers?
Has Kobe won his last chip?
I thought (more like hoped) the Lakers would win one more this year and then that would be it.
Now what?

You would think the lakers front-line is not the problem.
Gasol and Bynum are both big and both relatively young (23 and 30).
But I know someone else that is young and better than both of them.
So, do they offer Gasol and Bynum for Dwight Howard?

More pressing, I believe, is the clear fact that they are in need of a point guard - one that can get in the lane at will and one that can defend opposing team's quicker point guards. Someone that can create havoc on both ends of the floor.
Chris Paul anyone?
And if not him, Deron Williams anyone?
The question is, do they wait to sign them or try to force a trade for either one of those two before they become free agents Carmelo Anthony style?

I know, how about trading for Howard and then signing Paul in the summer of 2012?
Does Kobe have enough credit to make that happen?
By the summer of 2012 Kobe will be 34.
Jordan was 35 when he won his last ring.
Would Howard and Paul go to L.A.? Or would one go to New York?
Could that trio bring two more rings to L.A.?
Keep in mind by then the Heat should have that championship swag.

Either way, as much as it disappoints me to say it, the run of Lakers as is...... is over.

The Future is now.

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations, Kobe. You have just paved the way for the Miami Heat to win the NBA Championship.