Over the course of this shortened NBA regular season and during the NBA playoffs, the Los Angeles Lakers have been put under the microscope with a lot of uncertainty surrounding the post Phil Jackson era.
With the hiring of head coach Mike Brown being highly criticized, the former NBA Coach of the Year had a lot of pressure to succeed right out of the gate in Los Angeles. Despite exceeding expectations in his first season as the Lakers Coach, Brown has been on the hot seat every time the Lakers have struggled this year.
In the first round of the playoffs, the Lakers were labeled the favorites to advance against the Denver Nuggets. Unfortunately, despite two impressive wins in Game 1 and Game 2, the Lakers were forced to a Game 7 and were almost knocked out of the playoffs much quicker than anticipated.
As a result of the Nuggets extending the series to a full seven games, Brown was thrown under the bus by many NBA analysts, including Lakers legend Magic Johnson. The consensus was that Brown might be fired if the Lakers were unable to advance to the second round.
Fortunately, the Lakers were able to advance with an inspired performance in Game 7. Even though Los Angeles is currently in the second round of the playoffs and has won one game against the Oklahoma City Thunder thus far, Brown seems to be taking some heat once again.
This series with the Thunder could easily be turned around with the Lakers up 3-1 heading into Game 5 in Oklahoma City. Unfortunately, that’s not the case with the Lakers falling apart in Game 2 and Game 4 with fourth quarter leads.
Lakers coach Mike Brown talked about those collapses during this series via Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com:
“You’re just going to have to do it,” Brown said. “I don’t have any tricks or anything magical to help us get over (Saturday’s) loss or even the Game 2 loss. We’re going to have to be mature enough to understand that it’s one game at a time. “
Whether or not Brown can turn his team around in order to win three games in a row against the Thunder remains to be seen, but if he can’t lead the Lakers to at least one more win the talks of a coaching change in Los Angeles may very well start to heat up once again.
If Brown does get the Lakers back on track and somehow is able to win the next three games, he will be considered a genius with job security moving forward, regardless of what happens in the Western Conference Finals. Otherwise, Brown will almost certainly be criticized by fans and NBA analysts for letting this series slip away.