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Can Kobe Bryant drag the Lakers past the first round of the playoffs?
Lie: The Los Angeles Lakers will be relevant come playoff time.
This year's Los Angeles Lakers team has been polarizing. The Lakers have been under the microscope since the minute they acquired Dwight Howard from the Orlando Magic. While most experts expected the Lakers to dominate, that has not been the case.
So far this season, the Lakers have compiled a 37-35 record, which puts them in eighth place in the Western Conference. While Mike D'Antoni's team is currently in playoff position, they still have to hold off the Utah Jazz and Dallas Mavericks.
The Lakers have been forced to deal with numerous injuries. Pau Gasol and Steve Nash both missed a significant portion of time due to various ailments. Unfortunately for Laker Nation, the team is still struggling to stay healthy.
According to ESPN.com, Metta World Peace will have to undergo surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee.
Due to the talent the Lakers front office assembled, the hype surrounding the team was immeasurable. Prior to the season's tip-off, the NBA blogosphere was looking forward to a Lakers versus Oklahoma City Thunder Western Conference Finals matchup.
At this point, the Lakers would be fortunate to qualify for the postseason, which was a plot twist that few anticipated.
Hopefully this situation teaches the sports community that titles are determined on the field of play rather than during the offseason.
Through the Lakers' struggles, most expected them to get it together and reach their immense potential. It's time to give up on that hope. The Lakers are still struggling to keep their record above .500 and the playoffs are in sight.
Even if the Lakers do qualify for the postseason, they would likely draw either the San Antonio Spurs or Thunder in the first round. So far this season, the Lakers are a combined 1-5 against the top two teams in the Western Conference.
In those six contests, the Lakers only held the Spurs/Thunder under 100 points once. There is no reason to expect that trend to change in the first round of the playoffs, and the defensive woes will apply even more pressure on LA's offense.
The Lakers have struggled to contain explosive point guards, which would make facing Tony Parker or Russell Westbrook a nightmare.
Both Westbrook and Parker have the quickness to run circles around Steve Nash, which will force Nash's teammates to help out in keeping opposing point guards from gaining easy penetration into the paint.
A matchup with either team would be a tough draw for LA, which means their relevancy in the postseason will be minimal.