The Los Angeles Lakers locked up another Pacific Division title grabbing the third seed in the 2012 Western Conference Playoffs, and are looking to make another deep post-season run.
It has been a roller-coaster type year for the Lakers, as they tried to find their new identity. This year they had a new coach, new offense, and new players, but that did not stop them during the second half of the season. The beginning of the year showed a glimmer of playoff hope. They could not for the life of them figure out how to win on the road, but after the All-Star break they started to click with the offensive coaching of Mike Brown, consistency in playing minutes, and making a move to acquire point guard Ramon Sessions. They have the pieces to make a deep run in the playoffs, now it’s time to play like a champion.
Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, Metta World Peace (despite having to serve a seven-game suspension), and Ramon Sessions are a starting five that can match up with the best of the league. Though the Lakers have the pieces to win, talent alone will not bring them an NBA championship. They must play with heart, determination, motivation, and hunger.
When the Lakers get in trouble, for example the second and third game against the San Antonio Spurs in the regular season, they were out-hustled the entire game. The Spurs beat them to loose balls, out-worked them on rebounds, were a step quicker on offense and defense, and therefore beat the Lakers by a combined 45 points in two games. One cannot simply sleep walk through the playoffs and expect to win.
It all starts with the energy and focus a team brings to each game. The aggressive, more hungry team gets the loose balls, has the bounces go their way, makes more shots, gets the foul calls, and lives to fight another day instead of cleaning out their locker.
To be successful, the Lakers must also play their style of basketball by not getting away from their strength. They must not try and beat a team in a shootout-type atmosphere. They are simply not a good enough outside shooting team to go shot for shot. Instead, go inside to their bigs, Bynum and Gasol, and do not be afraid to continuously pound the ball in the post until the other team can show and prove that they can stop it. Those two players are too tall, strong, and skilled for any team in the playoffs to stop them with one-on-one coverage. Therefore, if they utilize their dominance down low and force the team to double-team the post, the Lakers will get wide open looks from outside and open lanes to drive. That is when the Lakers will be extremely difficult to beat.
Next Page: Keys to the Post-Season