L.A. Lakers: Are Kobe and the Lakers Breaking Down or Preparing to Break Out?
If the Los Angeles Lakers were out to prove that they are a lot more vulnerable than some people think heading into the postseason, then their current five-game losing streak certainly accomplished that goal.
There are theories as to why the two-time defending NBA champions have lost those five games and their focus on the eve of their historic three-peat chase. Two of the most common theories? Fatigue and age.
The Lakers are one of the oldest teams in the postseason, with center Andrew Bynum being the only starter who has yet to crack the 30-year mark—the NBA is increasingly becoming a young man's league.
Older, more experienced teams—the Lakers, San Antonio Spurs and Boston Celtics—are being cast aside in favor of fresher, younger and more energetic teams like Chicago, Miami, Oklahoma City and Portland.
Consequently, age would seem like an issue when it comes to the grind of a seven-game series in the postseason. On the other hand, however, once the pace of the game slows down, that age begins to manifest as experience.
The Celtics and the Lakers both entered the 2010 postseason playing some of their worst basketball of the season, and Los Angeles in particular had lost seven out of their last 11 regular season games.
It's no coincidence that the two oldest teams in the NBA just happened to meet in the 2010 NBA Finals. Although the Lakers and Celtics had talented players, they could also rely on deeper degrees of playoff experience than any other team.
Having experienced situations under the pressure of the playoffs may cause different reactions from a veteran team, as opposed to a team who has yet to face adversity in the postseason.
The Lakers were able to capitalize on their experience last season and find new motivation once the playoffs began, and a Kobe-Bryant-led Lakers' team should cancel out any questions of fatigue.
At this point of the year every team is tired, but for playoff teams that weariness is usually replaced with a second wind in anticipation of the NBA's second season.
Tired bodies are renewed by the notion that anything is possible once they reach the postseason, and for a player like Bryant, that's when the true season really begins.
Bryant's minutes have been limited this season, but in all honesty it really wouldn't matter if he had played every minute possible, because who better knows how to physically prepare for the postseason than Bryant?
The age and fatigue theory will have little effect on the Lakers in the postseason, and the root causes of their five-game losing streak are pretty simple.
Defensively, the Lakers have been horrible in their last seven games, and even when their offense has been performing at a high level, they have been unable to get any key defensive stops.
In Sunday's loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, Bryant and Pau Gasol had efficient nights from the field and both scored 25-plus points, but the Lakers defense allowed Thunder players Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant to score 30 points each.
The younger Thunder players basically ran the Lakers off the court, adding fuel to the perception that they are one of the teams with a legitimate chance of knocking off the Lakers in the playoffs.
The Thunder also drew a little closer to the Lakers in the west standings. Oklahoma could actually finish with the second seed if the Lakers and Dallas Mavericks falter in their final regular season games.
And none of that should really matter to the Lakers.
In the postseason, the value of each possession gains importance and the pace of the game slows down. The team who prevails is usually more comfortable playing a structured game.
A premium is placed on the ability to score from a half court set as well as defend, and that's when the intangible qualities—experience and the ability to recognize the postseason dynamic of pace and tempo—become invaluable.
Bryant and his Lakers have proved that they understand what it takes to adapt their game to the postseason environment, and there is no question they will be motivated for the task at hand.
Beating the Lakers in the postseason is much more complicated than anything revealed in their five-game losing streak, and even though it's no way to end the regular season, it should hold no weight towards the future.
Every playoff team should aspire to finish the regular season with as much momentum as possible. That being said, however, I'm more concerned with how the Lakers do in the first game of their playoff series than the last game of the regular season.
What is the duplicate article?
Why is this article offensive?
Where is this article plagiarized from?
Why is this article poorly edited?