A Five-Point Plan the Lakers Need To Execute Before Reaching the NBA Finals

Al Williams IIIContributor IJanuary 21, 2009

The day after Martin Luthr King  day I find myself much more optimistic about LA's favorite purple and gold team and the opportunity they have in reaching the NBA finals.  I know what you're saying typical Lakers fan already placing his team in the finals winning a championship and celebrating the parade in front of Staples Center with thousands of his closest friends.

Well this is only half true, yes Im an optimist but I practice common sense as a daily routine with having common sense you must have an action plan or plan of action when setting a goal. 

Obviously the same goes for winning in team sports and the Lakers are no different so ahead I have five simple but difficult to complete tasks LA's fave squad must accomplish before reaching the finals.

5. Staying Healthy

How many teams in the past blame injuries on there downfall during the NBA season?  answer: All of them.

It is imperative the Lakers keep their top players healthy and when I mean top I mean those two seven footers.  Kobe's dislocated finger, Farmar's partially torn knee, Walton's (take a pick on which injury he has now) weird toe/foot injury, Sasha's back spasms. 

We are roughly 40 games into the season and it has already started. This is unavoidable and as important as any other so this has a lot to do with luck than anything else.

4. Lamar Odom

Ahhh the immensely talented Lamar Odom his role with The Lakers has been diminished slightly because of his new sixth man role but his importance to the team has not change at all. He is averaging slightly under nine points a game and about six rebounds.  Lakers probably need more production from Lamar but that isn't a new topic.

What he does very well is play defense and present match up problems for the opposition he can create off the dribble ,post and push the break.  The Lakers need Lamar to be that Xfactor off the bench, stay healthy and solidify the Bench Mob. Which leads me on to the next issue.

3. The Bench

Recently this year the Lakers when healthy they have been using about nine players in the general rotation with a guest appearance from Josh Powell on occasion. Within the recent weeks there has been a lot of rumors about the Lakers adding another guard to backup Fish while Farmar recovers from surgery.

It's key that the Bench and its mob come in and extend leads and get after it defensively(foreshadow alert) hit open shots and score in the open court.  With Jordan Farmar not ready until All-Star weekend that leaves the Lakers about three weeks left with Fish and Sasha running the point and an occasional sighting from Kobe at PG.

2. Kobe must continue to be brilliant

Kobe over the last five games has averaged about 8.8 assists and the last three he's averaged double figure assists in each game.  Now I don't know about anyone else but I have never seen Kobe string three games in a row with double digit assist.  They lost two of the last three but he has been playing a real efficient game the last five games.

If Kobe continues to display a willingness to be a distributor and an assassin at the same time will only give the Lake show that much more and give opposing coaches nightmares in developing a sound defensive game plan against him and his mates. 

Yet all of these points here really wont matter unless Lakers as a whole buy into this next point if you don't agree with me please re-watch the NBA Finals, or any other game Lakers lost this year.

1. TEAM DEFENSE!

If you ever watch the Boston Celtics you see they play team defense, if you have an opportunity to watch the San Antonio Spurs they also play really good if not great team D. 

The Lakers for the most part do play really good defense but for the most part not for 4qtrs and not against all teams(case in point the Indiana Pacers games).  If the LA Lakers make a determined effort and commitment in playing TEAM DEFENSE there shouldn't be a problem for them to win games in the playoffs and punch a ticket to the NBA finals.

So up next is the Feb. 19 trade deadline. Will the Lakers go out and make a move to acquire a reserve guard or just sign one from the D-league prospects? Either way it will be a defensive move to assist in the defense of the pick-n-roll the NBA's favorite play to run. 

The Cavs game on MLK day should resonate heavily in Lakers fans minds that all the Lakers have to do is make a conscious effort to a team defense. 

Can they? Of course we've seen it. Will they is the question in point.  Have fun NBA fans the rest of this year should be awesome!

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