This is the moment (or seven) the Los Angeles Lakers have been waiting for.
It's also a spot they shouldn't even be in.
I'm of course referring to the seven-game road trip Los Angeles is prepared to embark on. The same road trip that will truly define how far the Lakers have come as a team and essentially write the narrative for the rest of their season.
And per Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News, the Lakers know it:
“It’s huge. Absolutely huge,” Lakers guard Kobe Bryant said. “It can be a really really great trip for us, a great trip for us or an absolutely [expletive] trip.”
Heading into the first game of their travels against the Phoenix Suns, Kobe Bryant and crew have won three straight. The Black Mamba himself has assumed the roll of facilitator, Steve Nash is now primarily a scorer and Dwight Howard is actually sporting a genuine smile.
But will the Lakers emerge at the other end of this journey in a similar state? Or will the headway they've made crumble under the weight of what could prove to be unreachable expectations?
We've barely reached the halfway point of the NBA's regular season, but the ultimate fate of this Lakers team rests in the outcomes of their next seven bouts.
*All stats used in this article were compiled from Basketball-Reference, Synergy Sports and 82games.com unless otherwise noted.