Lakers’ Burning Questions Heading Into the Playoff Push

Will “The Renegades” ever find their edge on the road?

For the majority of the season, Kobe Bryant’s favorite associates, Brown, Barnes and Blake haven’t been performing at a high-high level on the road. Seeing as how the Lakers could potentially be seeing a lot of play time on the road, the bench’s road splits could be cause for concern. Okay, so maybe Steve Blake hasn’t really been the guy we all thought he’d be for the team when the Lakers signed him last summer. Perhaps Shannon Brown’s jumper has lacked luster of late. Barnes hasn’t played in weeks. Will he regain his rhythm come playoff time? All valid concerns, but then again remember how Ron Artest played over the later stretch of last season. There were huge red flags over how he would perform during the playoffs and he ended up making the deciding shot in game 7 of the finals. Guys raise their intensity during the playoffs, so the bench could surprise us in the end. Only time will tell.

If I had it my way…

Last year when the Celtics limped into the playoffs and somehow found the tenacity to knock-off all the East then-powerhouses, Orlando and Cleveland, I was beside myself with joy. Another Celtics/Lakers finals matchup was like a dream come true. The Lakers would finally get to avenge their 2008 loss to the Celtics.

This year, it’s a different story.

Not that the Celtics and Lakers meeting in the finals wouldn’t be phenomenal, but I’d much rather see a Lakers/Heat finale to the 2010-11 season. Hear me out. Kobe 2010 might as well be Jordan 1998. The basketball world would be cheated if it didn’t get a chance to see LeBron James and Kobe Bryant go head-to-head over the course of a seven game series. James might be peaking, but Bryant is still top-tier. With the lockout looming, how many more chances do we have to see a playoff series between two of the greatest players this generation has produced? Even if the Lakers meet the Heat way down the road, is Kobe still going to be the same player? Some nights he’s vintage, other nights he shows his mileage. He’s admitted to his own mortality, seeing a decline and subsequent exit down an ever-increasingly shorter road.

It would just be a great matchup and a shame if it never happened while both players were still performing at a high level, particularly Kobe.

And finally, the big seven-foot elephant in the room…

I won’t dare say we could finally see a healthy Andrew Bynum in the playoffs from start to finish. Okay, so maybe I just did. The best part is that it isn’t just about Bynum’s health. He’s been performing well over the past few games and is looking more consistent on defense. Don’t translate big and strong for offensive prowess.

If Andrew Bynum isn’t scoring 20 points a night, it’s because he doesn’t have the opportunity to. His role on the team, for now, is to be a rebounder, shot blocker/changer and suffocate the paint to prevent easy baskets for the opposition.

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