After an embarrassing loss to the Boston Celtics, the Los Angeles Lakers are at it again. Starting the season a perfect 6-0 proves that the Lakers are out to make a statement this season. Having lost to their archrival Boston Celtics 4-2 in the NBA Finals, Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson plan to make one last push to the championship.
Of course that won’t be easy considering Boston still has the big three. With KG, Ray Allen, and Finals MVP Paul Pierce it won’t be as easy as imagined. Of course the Celtics lost veteran James Posey to the New Orleans Hornets, but the fact is they still have all five starters from the championship team. However, the Lakers are even more equipped with weapons this year.
With a healthy Andrew Bynum, the Lakers can increase their post play instead of just relying on Paul Gasol to do all the dirty work and scoring down low. Also with the help of veteran Derek Fisher and a now experienced Jordan Farmar, the Lakers can push the Celtics to max if in case they do meet up again in the Finals.
But we can’t just consider ONE team. We have to consider all the teams that the Lakers may have to go through in the West just to make it to the Finals.
The first and biggest opposing threat to the Lakers this year is a surprising one: the Houston Rockets.
I know, I know. The Rockets have never gotten out of the first round of the playoffs, but with Ron Artest in the lineup, the Rockets basically have a five-man all-star team. With Luis Scola coming back from the Olympics better than ever, he’s becoming a threat down low with his quickness.
Yao Ming, T-Mac, and Scola offer one of the best down low threats for any team in the NBA this season. With Ron Artest and Rafer Alston running the guard position, the Houston Rockets are hard to stop.
The second team that the Lakers have to watch out for is New Orleans.
Why are they in the West anyway? That’s the least of our worries.
The thing is with Chris Paul’s first playoff/Olympic experience over, youth and experience won’t be a factor anymore. It’s time to get down to business. With David West and Peja Stojakovic ran by the best point guard in the NBA, it’s hard to see how they’re not going to be a force with which to reckon.
The third and fourth most underrated teams that the Lakers have to watch out for are the San Antonio Spurs and the Dallas Mavericks.
The San Antonio Spurs may be underperforming at the start of the season, but injuries to two of their superstars, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, have hindered the Spurs from performing to their fullest potential. There is no doubt that the Spurs are a top contender in the West when Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili are all healthy.
As for the Mavericks, Jason Kidd’s still got a little bit more fuel left to take this team, with Dirk Nowitzki and Josh Howard, in the direction that Mark Cuban wants them to go. They may not be the most efficient team to challenge the Lakers, but at times they can be dangerous.
So as you can see, the road to the championship may not be easy for the Lakers, considering that they play in a much more difficult Western conference.
All in all, the Lakers are the favorites to win the West, and, in the end…win the NBA Finals.