Are the Los Angeles Lakers scared?
No—well, not yet anyway.
As we enter the 2011 NBA Playoffs, there are more storylines and star players than I know what to do with, but the biggest has to be Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers.
The defending champs take on the New Orleans Hornets at the Staples Center tonight in LA, and the Lake Show has to be relieved.
After limping into the postseason—and requiring another clutch Bryant performance the last game of the regular season to secure the two-seed in the West—the Lakers have to be pleased they are matched up with a team they have owned this year.
The Hornets do have Chris Paul at point guard, which is the Lakers' weakest position, but not much else. With David West going down with a torn ACL, Paul won't have much help against the champs in the opening round.
I think Paul will have a valiant effort, but ultimately he will come up short.
On the other hand, this series is exactly what the doctor ordered for the Lakers. This gives Bryant and company a chance to work out the kinks in their defense before defending their crown against the likes of Portland, Dallas and Oklahoma City.
The road to the finals is never easy, but the Lakers' path this year may be easier than years' past, starting with the Hornets.
The playoffs are here, and it's time to go to work.