Thursday, April 02, 2009
The Los Angeles Lakers have endured a little stumble over the last week, they lost in Atlanta to the Hawks. Then they followed that up with another defeat at the hands of the Charlotte Bobcats. The lowly 'Cats are on the outside looking in the race for the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. They are only a game back of the Bulls and their defeat of the Lakers, capping a season series sweep of the LA, may have changed the course of the NBA championship this season.
The reason why we say that is that the Bobcats put a capper on a week where the Lakers may have ceded homecourt advantage in the NBA to the Cleveland Cavaliers and LeBron James should both squads reach the Finals. If LeBron and Cleveland have homecourt, that could be enough to tip the balance in a tight series.
When analyzing the Lakers prospects, there has to be the question of whether or not Kobe Bryant is fatigued, having gone all the way the Finals last year, some twenty-odd playoff games, and then the Olympic run on top of it. Also, the enigmatic Lamar Odom has also cooled off from a scorching February where he averaged 16.5 points and 13.4 rebounds per game. In March he is back to a more human 11 pts and 9.2 boards per game. Coterminously and perhaps not coincidentally, the Lakers have likewise cooled from playing .817 ball year-to-date to playing .667 ball in March.
There has been some seeding scuffling just before the NBA playoffs. The Clarion Content does not believe the champion will come from outside the "big four" Celtics, Lakers, Cavs, Spurs. However, there are seeding things happening, beyond the Lakers mini-slump, that could effect which of those four teams wins the title. The Spurs have gone 5 up and 5 down in their last ten, sliding dangerously toward the middle of the playoff pack where many Western Conference contenders might threaten them in the second round, if they have homecourt advantage. Similarly in the Eastern Conference, the Celtics and the Magic are in a tight battle for second and third place in the conference where the winner will have homecourt advantage in a second round confrontation. It is not unfathomable that with homecourt and a healthy Dwight Howard versus a gimpy K.G. that Orlando could work a little Magic on the Leprechauns from Beantown.