Before I get started I simply have to state that this is an idea the Lakers will never consider, and even if they did consider it they certainly wouldn’t admit that they considered it. And in no way do I think this is something that should be considered by anybody else who is considering it.
Okay, now that we got that out of the way here’s what I’m thinking.
It might be beneficial for the Lakers to lose two games to the Denver Nuggets in their best-of-seven first round playoff series.
Blasphemous? Maybe. But once you begin to look into it, the more it seems like not such a terrible idea. Well, other than the fact that you’re basically covering yourself in gasoline, lighting a match, and hoping you don’t accidentally drop said match on your fuel-soaked foot.
Let’s explore some of the background information here so I can at least cover all the bases with this argument.
The main basis for this reasoning is the obvious suspension of Metta World Peace. Before the final game of the season against the Sacramento Kings, World Peace was banned seven games by the league for knocking James Harden all the way to Santa Barbara with his elbow. A suspension, by the way, that was completely warranted.
So, this essentially means the Lakers are without World Peace for the first round of the playoffs. But, by setting an exact number of games instead of simply saying – “Ron, you’re out for the first round” – there is the possibility that he may miss some games if the team advances to the Western Conference Semi-Finals.
And therein lies the problem: The Lakers might be without their top on-ball defender for the first several games of a series against a team that will either feature Kevin Durant or Dirk Nowitzki.
That spells trouble.
So how could the Lakers possibly combat this situation and ensure World Peace is on the floor for the entirety of the second round?
They lose two games to the Denver Nuggets.
Now, I really don’t mean to disrespect Denver, even though that’s basically what I’m doing. The arrogance that I’m exerting here is pretty brash, and by suggesting that the Lakers will have so little trouble with the Nuggets that they can afford to lose two games in a playoff series purely to live out a suspension is probably borderline idiotic.
But think about it. Wouldn’t it be beneficial for the Lakers to be at full strength against their next opponent rather than fall behind 0-1 or 0-2 in a series waiting for him to return? There’s no doubt that Artest (please forgive me for jumping back and forth between his gaggle of names), has made an impact in games against the Thunder and Nuggets this season.
In theory this sounds perfect. Having Artest on the floor for the entire series would make a huge difference for a Los Angeles team that has trouble at times defensively. So then, how do they go about losing two games that they won’t actually admit they want to lose? And, how do they successfully play with fire (see graphic metaphor mentioned above) without having a Left Eye/Andre Rison situation?
The Lakers are already up two games to none after winning the first two games at home. To make this theory work perfectly there are two specific games that they are allowed to lose in this series without causing severe hysteria and panic in Los Angeles: Game 3 and Game 5.
Let me explain further.
Losing Game 3 is almost a foregone conclusion. Since acquiring Pau Gasol, the Lakers are 2-6 in Game 3 situations on the road after winning the first two games at home. It’s that game where they take it easy because they know that winning this game is more of a luxury than a necessity. If they lose, they still are up 2-1 in the series and have a chance to put a stranglehold on the series by winning Game 4.
So why can’t they win Game 3 and then lose Game 4? Because the goal is to get through six games, not just five. By winning Game 3 you’re being forced to lose two consecutive games, which could give the Nuggets some momentum and faith that they actually have a chance to win this series. Remember, this ridiculous theory only works if you’re under the assumption that the Lakers are using the Nuggets as nothing more than strategy to play out a suspension.
For the record, I can’t even begin to explain how pompous I feel right now. It’s almost shameful.
Alright. So the Lakers lose Game 3 and now are up 2-1 in the series. This means they have to win Game 4 to take a commanding 3-1 series lead, and give themselves three chances to win one game. Two of those chances, by the way, would be at home. But, that home court advantage thing obviously gets even trickier here. As I’m sure you’ve already noticed (because I have faith that the IQ of my readers is well above average), the Lakers could not win Game 5 at Staples Center because they would eliminate the Nuggets, and leave themselves without Metta World Ron for Game 1 of the second round.
So they tank a game at home? Yes. They tank a game at home.
I guess I’m kind of getting tired of the playing with fire metaphor. There are only so many ways you can express that, so we’re going to try something else. Actually, forget it. I don’t feel that creative at the moment. We’ll stick with the fire. Moving on.
The Lakers lose Game 5 at home and now put themselves in a tough situation: eliminate the Nuggets in Game 6 at the Pepsi Center or face a Game 7 back in Los Angeles. Since we’re already following the inane notion that the Lakers are playing with the Nuggets like a picky toddler who doesn’t want to finish his macaroni and cheese, they would have no problem defeating Denver on the road and moving onto the second round.
That would put the Lakers at full strength and ready to face the Thunder or Mavericks with World Star Hip-Hop in the starting lineup, ready to spend four-to-seven games chasing Durant and Dirk around the floor.
So, that’s the scenario. That’s what would be the best fit for the Lakers. As ridiculous as it sounds, the team would be at a severe disadvantage without Artest in the second round – even if it’s just for a couple of games.
Now, purely because I can’t think of another way to end this, I’m going to again stress that this is anything but a serious consideration. If given the opportunity to sweep the Nuggets and face the second round without World Peace, the team would absolutely jump at that opportunity. The playoffs are a time when giving away opportunities almost always comes back to haunt you. Giving away two games for the sake of setting up a more favorable matchup in a series that hasn’t even been reached yet is beyond absurd.
But it’s still fun to think about.