This may sound like a crazy idea because no team should ever tank games—especially in the playoffs. However, this may be one of those instances where a team may have to out of desperation.
The Lakers cannot afford to enter a seven-game series with a team like the Thunder without their best defender—Metta World Peace.
MWP is currently serving his seven-game suspension after throwing an ill-advised elbow to the back of Thunder G/F James Harden's neck. Currently, there are four games left on his suspension. The Lakers are currently up 2-0 to the Nuggets, and based on the way the first two games have gone, the Lakers could easily sweep the Nuggets or, at most, take it in five.
Andrew Bynum is too much for JaVale McGee, and Kobe Bryant is manhandling every single defender thrown his way. Ramon Sessions is making key shots and Pau Gasol is being his usual very effective self. It will take a miracle for the Nuggets to even beat the Lakers twice in the series, let alone four times.
If the Lakers do sweep the Nuggets, which at this point is highly likely, the team would not have Metta's services for the first two games against the Thunder. If the Lakers win in five, they would miss their starting small forward for only one game.
The Thunder, meanwhile, are up 2-0 against the Dallas Mavericks. Dallas have lost Games 1 and 2 though the team has played better than they have all season long. There are not too many scenarios that involve the Mavericks beating the Thunder here, so it’s safe to say that Kevin Durant and company will advance to the second round.
This is why the Lakers need to put the starters to rest and let the Nuggets have a game or two. Giving up two games might be out of the question here, because as much as the world knows the Lakers will win the series, there is never really a sure thing in sports—just ask the 2007 New England Patriots.
The Lake Show seriously needs MWP against the Thunder. If he misses the first two games against OKC, the Lakers will most likely be in a 2-0 hole with no real chance of getting out.
With Metta in the lineup, the Lakers get another defender to help out on Kevin Durant and James Harden.
It's an odd predicament to be in here, as the Lakers would love to sweep the Nuggets and have a couple of extra days to rest their knees, but they would also love to have a fresh Metta come in from the get-go and continue his strong play prior to the suspension.
It would look really bad if Mike Brown was to bench their starters for two games. It would also hurt the team from a chemistry standpoint, because the whole point of the playoffs is to play together as a team and work through the struggles.
Instead, the key Lakers players should get some extra rest throughout some of the games, and maybe try to mail it in instead of winning the close games. We have already established that the Lakers are going to beat the Nuggets regardless, so why not just put less effort into a game when you know there is a huge benefit behind it?
Should the Lakers tank it to bring MWP back for Game 1?
It’s really simple—without Metta World Peace playing in at least the second game of Round 2 against the Oklahoma City Thunder, the team might as well get their tackling box ready to go fishing in a couple of weeks.
This may be a very unorthodox idea, but in this situation, it is definitely the right idea.
Sammy Sucu is a featured columnist for the WWE. Sammy also writes for the NFL, the Minnesota Vikings and the Los Angeles Lakers. You can follow him on Twitter and follow all of his coverage during WWE events for live updates and analysis.