Can the Lakers Overtake the Cavaliers as the NBA's Best Team?

Paul PeszkoSenior Writer IFebruary 22, 2010

DALLAS - FEBRUARY 13:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks on during the Taco Bell Skills Challenge on All-Star Saturday Night, part of 2010 NBA All-Star Weekend at American Airlines Center on February 13, 2010 in Dallas, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

The Cavaliers have lost three straight.  The Lakers had won four straight before losing a one-point decision to the Celtics the other night.

Who can remember when the Cavaliers lost three straight regular season games?  And who can remember when the Lakers won four games in a row without Kobe Bryant?

In fact, who can remember when Kobe Bryant missed four games?  But all that should change this week as Bryant is expected to rejoin his teammates on the hardwood possibly in Memphis on Tuesday.

Will the complexion of the NBA standings change as well?

With a well-rested Kobe Bryant returning to the Lakers lineup for the first time since February 5th and the Cavaliers stumbling, will Bryant and the Lakers finally overtake the Cavaliers and once again hold the best record in the NBA and regain home court advantage throughout the playoffs?

Not only are the Cavaliers stumbling in the East, but the Lakers’ greatest rival in the West, the San Antonio Spurs, are having difficulties of their own.  The Spurs have lost three out of their last five games, and now Tony Parker has been sidelined with an ankle injury.

The stars seem to be aligning for the Lakers. In addition to the Cavs and Spurs declining and Bryant returning, the players around Bryant have never given as good a team performance this season at both ends of the court as they have in the past five games.

If they can keep it up and Bryant can work his magic into the mix, the Lakers should be able to surpass the Cavaliers with the best overall record. 

But the Lakers need to keep one eye on their goal up ahead and one eye behind them on the Denver Nuggets, their closest adversary in the West.  The Nuggets are five games behind the Lakers in the standings but have been a hot team of late and have a 2-0 series edge on the Lakers.

But the Lakers will have a chance to cool the Nuggets off when the two meet in Denver next Sunday.

It’s not only an important game in the standings for playoff implications but for psychological factors as well.  

Should the Nuggets take their third straight from the Lakers that will give them all the confidence in the world regardless of their seed in the playoffs.  But a strong Lakers victory in Denver will take a lot of the air out of those two Nugget victories.

All in all, this is a key week in the NBA especially for the Lakers and could mark an important turning point in the season.


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