So yes, the Lakers made the playoffs and the seventh seed at that. But this isn't fun. It feels more like a death watch. It was painful to watch the team struggle against San Antonio and old nemesis Manu Ginobili who has gotten healthy at just the right time.
Meanwhile, the Lakers once again trot out a new starting line-up and all the problems that have plagued them all year, mostly because of injury, were right back on full view. No chemistry, turnovers (18), not enough shooting. Depressing.
This was the game where the Lakers really missed Kobe Bryant. His shooting could have kept them close, but when Ginobili went off in the third, the Lakers had no answer. Final score: 91-79 San Antonio.
Mike D'Antoni is going to have to make some adjustments for Game 2. The Spurs need none. They now know how to beat this particular Lakers squad.
What can the Lakers possibly do? I can't believe I'm going to broach this heresy, but I think Steve Nash should come off the bench. He's still not healthy. His time away has left him rusty and most of all, it disrupts what little chemistry the Lakers had in their back court with Steve Blake (who has been lights out the final few games as the Lakers pushed for the playoffs sans Kobe) and Jodie Meeks. I will grant you this isn't Westbrook and Durant, but at least the Lakers were competitive.
But if Nash can go for Game 2, I think there is zero chance D'Antoni won't start him. One thing about D'Antoni that really bothers me is his blindness to Nash's current limitations; more to do with injury than age right now. I think he keeps thinking he has the 2005-07 Nash on his hands. I understand his loyalty. But, D'Antoni's priority has to be the team.
Will the Lakers advance out of Round 1?
The Lakers will not advance out of this round. It kills me to write that, but they just do not have enough firepower to beat the Spurs. Of all the many injuries this year, the one that hurts the most is losing Kobe. There is no one on this team who can make up his production. We saw that in Game 1.
One of the most fascinating aspects of Game 1 for me was Mamba tweeting. From the television production perspective, ABC's choice to report on Kobe's real time tweets during the broadcast was bold. Kobe on social media is a match made in heaven, especially on Twitter where brevity and wit are the coins of the realm. (Remember: "Amnesty THAT" directed toward Mark Cuban?! Brilliant.)
It also reveals that there are still a lot of media folks who don't understand Twitter. [Confidential to Jeff Van Gundy: people abbreviate on twitter because you are limited to 140 characters per tweet. ur welcome.]
We'll see how D'Antoni decides to play things going forward. An interesting side note to keep an eye on is the current courtship of Mike Brown by the Cleveland Cavaliers. If that deal happens, I hope the intrepid reporters at the Los Angeles Times will advise Lakers fans of what that means in terms of the remainder of Brown's contract. I believe the Lakers still owe him some money. I am not sure if that goes away if he accepts another coaching job.
If that obligation does go away, that makes things very interesting for D'Antoni. Conventional wisdom has been that even if the Lakers' brass was unhappy with him, they were unlikely to fire him. Two fired coaches in less than a year is not good. That's a lot of dead payroll.
But if Brown heads back to Cleveland relieving the Lakers of the balance of his salary......well, that opens up a whole host of possibilities.
Translation: Phil Jackson. Lakers fans still want him back.
We'll see what develops. We'll know sooner rather than later because the Lakers' offseason drama is about to get going.
Lakers Nation: Enjoy the few games we have left. After that, it is time to turn our eyes to 2013-14.