The home stretch to the playoffs are upon us and for those paying attention, the battle for the top spot in the West is still up for grabs, and the Lakers look ready to take it.
Sitting only 3.5 games behind the San Antonio Spurs for the top spot with eight games to go, the Lakers have a legitimate shot at clinching not only the top spot, but also home court advantage throughout the playoffs. The question is, how hard are the Lakers willing to fight for these last weeks before the playoffs begin?
Every Laker fan is thinking the same thing right now: "Should we sit Kobe or not?" This question pops up every year around this time, but the answer depends on the situation of the season, and honestly this season the Lakers may need to push all-out for the next eight games even if it means playing Kobe 35 min every game.
At the start of the season, the Lakers had to deal with being the Christian Laettner of the league, getting everyone's best shot, and being labeled as the league's best. This only meant that the Lakers had to be on their A-game, especially the "Black Mamba," Kobe Bryant.
Having the mentality of defending the title, the Lakers haven't been able to take a break even for a second this season and this has taken a tole on the older players: Kobe, Gasol, Artest, etc. It may not show too much, but the mental aspect of these players had to have been worn down to a point by now and though someone like will no doubt rejuvenate himself using his drive to win, every human has a breaking point.
This is why Laker fans seriously consider sitting Kobe and Gasol for the last couple of games. There really aren't many negatives or consequences of doing so, but this is the year that the Lakers need to push all-in.
Nothing is guaranteed in the playoffs and though the Lakers have proven to be the best team the last two seasons, the third time is always the hardest.
The Orlando Magic, Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls and arch-nemesis Boston Celtics will be waiting for the Lakers in the finals, assuming the Lakers make it that far, and wouldn't it be great if the Lakers had the help of home-court throughout the playoffs?
The saying, "every little thing matters" could be used in this case for the Lakers. Come playoff time, when the Spurs are healthy again and when the Mavericks and Thunder will be ready, giving their ultimate best against the Lakers, those little "ticks" and "tocks" that come alive in a home arena may be the difference between sending Coach Jackson home on top and losing the title.
Some call it foolish, I call it strategy. The Lakers will no doubt need every help they can get in this year's playoffs, but with the help of Kobe's reputation of coming alive in the playoffs, mixed in with a hopeful home court advantage, don't expect to merely see the Lakers in the finals this year. Expect to see the best Laker team in three years.