Los Angeles Lakers: Are The Defending Champs In Trouble?

Sebastian MooreContributor IApril 1, 2010

The Lakers 109-92 loss to the Hawks capped off a miserable five game road trip in which the Lakers went 2-3.

They lost by an average of 13 points in their three losses to the Thunder, Hornets and Hawks. The bench has been absent to say the least, and they have struggled mightily in trying to find some sort of rhythm as the playoffs near.

Without Bynum, the bench does not provide the same impact with Lamar Odom in the starting the lineup. Their defensive intensity has fallen off mightily during this road trip and has not been as stifling as it once was.

The Lakers only performed well against Houston and San Antonio on this road trip.

With all of this said, I still believe that the Lakers have what it takes to win the NBA champions in June.

Although their bench has struggled, they have actually performed well in pressure situations. During Kobe's five game absence in which they went 4-1, they also performed really well in hostile environments. 

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This group has been to the NBA finals two years in a row.  It would not be a stretch to call them a veteran team. 

The bench is not as deep as people thought, but they have the capability to perform at high levels as they've displayed throughout this season.

I'm actually one of those that believe playing the Spurs in the first found is a good thing. It would get their antennas up early instead of later.

While they would be the eighth seed in the playoffs, no one on the Lakers will look at them being the final seed. Playing this team would force them to play to their potential and spark that old championship vigor.

So I say to all the naysayers and the critics of the Lakers, it is far too early to press the panic button on the defending champions.

The playoffs are right around the corner and then you can analyze and breakdown everything to a "T", but until then, allow them to coast through the regular season.

This team has only added one player in the offseason and have the same bench that won the NBA championship. The Lakers will be fine, and I look forward to them proving all of the critics wrong as the playoffs are just around the corner on April 17th.