Not one person on this planet expected the Rockets-Lakers series to go seven games with or without Yao Ming in the line-up for the Rockets but yet here we are. As good as the Rockets have played without Yao Ming, there is no way the Lakers should have let this series go on for this long and someone, rightfully so, deserves the blame.
This entire series Phil Jackson has been outcoached by Rick Adelman. Last time a coach was outcoached this badly in a series the Cavs were getting swept in the Finals in 2007. Phil Jackson’s track record in this series is beyond horrible.
For instance, did Jackson or the Lakers coaching staff not watch any game tapes from the Blazers-Rockets series? From the onset of game one it didn’t look like they did. Why did the Lakers even bother to guard Yao Ming like any other post player when fronting him from game one would have made him a non-factor?
The Lakers would have won game one if they did that. The Blazers fronted Yao for almost the entire series and almost pulled out the series because the neutralized the Rockets biggest offensive threat. Also, Jackson continues to leave Fisher out there to guard Brooks and if not for the Fisher suspension in game three, the Lakers could have lost that game as well.
Both Brown and Farmar do a much better job than Fisher of keeping Aaron Brooks in front of them and not let him get into the paint. Derek Fisher would have a hard time covering Dikembe Mutombo on the perimeter at this point and Mutombo only has one leg. Yet, Phil still continues to trot him out there game after game even though Brooks is blowing by him like a F1 car next to a go-kart.
Also, if you are going to leave Fisher in the game, why not make him cover Battier and have Kobe play defence on Brooks. Simple adjustments as these would have made this series over in six games or less. Along with this, he left Kobe on the bench for almost six minutes at the start of the fourth quarter in game six. The Lakers were making a run and got it within six points but yet Phil chose to keep his best player on the bench.
As much as Kobe is the leader of this team on the court, there is only so much he can do with Battier or Artest in his face for most of the game. The other players on his team have to step up and it’s up to Jackson to play the correct players.
The Lakers will not lose this series because they have Kobe and they are at home but they just played two extra games compared to the Nuggets who have been resting for a few days now and as we all know, the deeper you go into the playoffs, the more rest you have the better. Especially considering Kobe hasn’t had a summer off for almost two years with his involvement with the USA Olympic team.
If for some reason the world turns over and the Rockets actually win game seven, the blame should fall onto Jackson’s shoulders and rightfully so. You can let your team play through any runs by opposing teams in the regular season but not in the playoffs.
Jackson’s stubbornness to call timeouts and to be loyal to Fisher hurt the Lakers immensely in this series and it could also play a factor in the Conference Finals or even further. His trusted line-up of Fisher, Kobe, Walton, Odom and Gasol is not producing this series but again he still goes with that line-up for long stretches in every game.
On top of that, he will not give his youngsters who fresh and quicker legs a chance to help this team out. The Lakers without a doubt have more talent and depth at almost every position but yet they are getting burned by an undersized PG and an undersized C/PF.
Jackson throughout his career has refused to match up against other teams and usually the other teams switched their strategies to match Jackson’s teams but for some reason in this series, Jackson has thrown that out the window and at many times matched Rockets smaller line-up to no success at all.
Jackson is without a doubt one of the smartest coaches in NBA history but either he knows something the rest of us don’t or maybe his age has finally caught up to him and he's losing his touch.
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