The popular opinion in the NBA is that after seeing Kobe Bryant tear his Achilles tendon against the Golden State Warriors, the Lakers, whether they made the playoffs or not, had no shot at contending for an NBA title.
But with the Black Mamba now the least of the team’s worries, it might actually be one of the best things that happen to the Lakers going forward in the postseason.
The win against the Houston Rockets could be the best thing for the Lakers going forward. The purple and gold have a better chance at moving past the first round if they faced off against the injury-ridden San Antonio Spurs, especially with their one big advantage: their inside game.
Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard got off to abysmal starts to the 2012-13 NBA season, but lately the Lakers giant duo has become one of the best low-post tandems in the Association.
Without Kobe, the Lakers have to utilize their obvious strengths. Other than Kobe, the rest of the team’s ability to create their own shot off the dribble is very poor. Most of their shooters spot up on along the arc, waiting for Kobe to pass out of the double-team.
The only chance the Lakers have at moving on will be to feed the big men. This gives them a better chance at not turning the ball over. The old legs on the perimeter won't be able to stop the Spurs in transition, nor will they be able to take on San Antonio's young defenders one-on-one.
Even though Tim Duncan is playing great basketball as of late, he won't be enough to stop D12 or Pau on his own. The big men for the Lakers should have their way inside, increasing their chances to pull off a major upset.
Avoiding OKC in the first round was huge because now the Lakers have a great shot to move on to the second round of the NBA playoffs.