Breathe in the True Essence of the Playoffs

As is the constant whenever the Lakers appear “unmotivated” and “flat,” defense is the culprit. The thing about defense though is, when you have a team as experienced and talented as we do, most errors can be easily identified and corrected. Ron Artest’s suspension for Game 3 is no excuse. It is what it is, we’ve got to deal with it. You don’t win playoff series without your role players taking it to another level.  It’s time for Matt Barnes to carve his niche into Laker lore.

It’s rudely apparent by now that Dirk Nowitzki is basically unstoppable, as evidenced by the ridiculous turnaround fade-away jumper that turned into a three-point play towards the end of Game 2. However, I’d be hard-pressed to believe that his teammates fall right in line with that assessment. Dirk can score 50 points, I don’t care, but the Lakers absolutely have to contain all of the action and execution that works off of him. When you play a team as good as the Mavs, you’ve got to pick your poison.

As much as it pains me to admit this, Charles Barkley made a great point on Inside the NBA following the game in saying how the high pick-and-roll with Dirk and J.J. Barea may have looked like the diminutive guard was the star of the show, but it was mostly because no gold jersey was willing to leave the body of Nowitzki. I’d much rather see Dirk take a tough shot than watch Barea glide to the rim uncontested.

While it’s often irrevocably frustrating to watch the Lakers play defense that is leaps and bounds below the level to which they are capable of playing, we do also know that “it” is there. The attention to detail, grind-it-out championship moxie is there. We saw it last year in Game 3 in Boston and Game 7 here in L.A. For the first time since the ’08 Finals, I feel as though we are truly being challenged.

I’m an idealist fan, but not in the straight-forward sense. I want it to be this hard. You remember these moments the most. Think back for a second to 2002 when the Lakers were staring at a 24-point figurative grave in Game 4 against the Sacramento Kings in the Western Conference Finals. Yes, the Robert Horry game. Had it not been for that epic comeback and Big Shot Rob’s heroics, the Lake Show would have been left with a 3-1 series deficit and who knows how that would have turned out.

For those who watched that series, you’ll always remember it.  Will you always remember any of the series against he Jazz in the last three years?  Even the one against the Rockets that went seven (but not really)?

All I can hope for is that all Laker fans maintain steadfast loyalty, remain positive and…enjoy the hell out of this. THIS IS WHAT THE PLAYOFFS ARE ALL ABOUT!  It’s supposed to be this hard.  Championships are not handed to anyone, they are won fighting through adversity with unrelenting resolve and poise.  Our captains will lead the way.

For all those losing their minds, take comfort in Kobe’s words,

“Everyone’s trippin. We just need to win one game. Win one, move onto the next one and win that game. Simple as that.”

Game 3, Friday.

Simple as that.

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