A month ago, everyone was wondering if Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers had turned the corner after the All-Star game. I think that has been answered with a resounding “yes.” Or, it is a 15-1 record since Kobe won All-Star MVP honors.
Now, the last bit of the NBA’s regular season remains, and the Lakers find themselves not only back in form but also in serious contention for the league’s best record. LA is only three-and-a-half games behind the San Antonio Spurs. I even find writing that startling.
Seriously, with all the doom and gloom that surrounded the Lakers like sharks going after a bleeding diver, it is hard to believe the Lakers are tied right now for the league’s second best record and actually have the Spurs in sight.
LA is claiming they don't’ care if they catch the Spurs or not, and I believe them. But it sure is amazing and fun to laugh at all those writers and detractors who wrote off the Lakers all season long.
But putting the money where your mouth is comes in the playoffs and the Lakers know that better than anyone. That’s why they didn’t care about regular season ups and downs and still don’t.
These last nine games remaining in April are important. It will determine final playoff seeding, and the Lakers can really control their own destiny.
I don't think they will catch the Spurs, but more than likely, the Lakers will end up with the league’s second best record overall. That is important, especially if the Lakers can make it back to the NBA Finals. That would mean LA would have home court advantage over any Eastern Conference opponent.
We saw how valuable that was last year with Game 7 against Boston being in LA. I don’t even want to think about what would have happened if the Lakers had to play that game on the Celtics' home floor. Not good.
Anyway, April will be the time for the final push, but it also might be a place for the Lakers to slightly ease up on the gas. They’ve proven in March that they are still the team to beat. Now, it’s time to make sure everyone is healthy as the playoffs approach.
I have no worries that head coach Phil Jackson won’t have the Lakers both physically and mentally ready for the playoff run.
While most people didn't’ expect the Lakers to have the winning streaks in March, I sure did. So, my predictions for March ended up being very strong, as I predicted a 12-1 record for the month which ended up 11-1 with the Dallas game tonight (Thursday) to end the month.
If the Lakers win this game, they will finish March where I predicted them. Not many people believed in LA like I did at the end of February. I’m glad the Lakers proved me right.
I’m not so sure April will see the Lakers playing quite as strong. We might even see Jackson rest some of his starters before the playoff run, especially if the Spurs end their losing ways and the Lakers edge ahead of Dallas and any Eastern Conference teams.
So, here are my April predictions.