The NBA schedule is not a sprint. It’s a marathon divided into segments like the acts in a movie. You know, like that new Black Mamba flick.
As in any film first comes the opening act, the introductory phase that takes place before the All-Star break. At this point some teams are still searching for an identity. Slowly but surely a hierarchy is hashed out, the pretenders sorted from the contenders game by game, road trip by road trip. There are stretches of malaise where teams seem to lose focus and coaches lament the grind of the eighty two game season. Sometimes personal goals get in the way of team chemistry, sometimes trade speculation gets in the way of the product on the court. In the end, it is merely a prologue.
The second act is when the dust starts to settle. The shenanigans of the All-Star game are put to bed. Teams know roughly where they fit into the playoff picture, if at all. The race is on to jockey for position. Intensity and focus reach a new level.
Then there’s the playoffs. The best basketball in the world. Forty games in forty nights. Epic rants delivered on a daily basis by Charles Barkley during TNT telecasts. Series by series ends while teams head for the exit. Gone fishin’. In the end, there is only one left standing.
The Lakers are at a tipping point. Act one was a disappointment, punctuated by an embarrassing loss to the worst team in the NBA. Act two has yet to be written, but the writing already on the wall speaks volumes. Either they start handling their business on the court or they’’ll end up going on an early vacation. Just another pretty girl who was forced to leave the party early.
Next: Toughest Yet to Come