The Lakers look refreshed and ready to play since they’ve come back from the All-Star break. The #KobeMask has been a good look for Bryant, who posted 31 points, seven rebounds, and eight assists during the dominating win against the Timberwolves. But April is coming in a hurry, and the Lakers are at a crucial point in their season. In a stacked Western Conference only two-and-a-half games separate the fourth seeded Lakers from the eighth seeded Nuggets. With little margin for error, how will the Lakers fair in this final playoff push?
The March 15th trade deadline is closer than ever, and the Lakers need to make some moves to be a title contender. Trade rumors have swirled around the Lakers before the season even began and here we are in March, and still no trades have been made. So what does the notoriously quiet Mitch Kupchak have up his sleeve this time? Will Rajon Rondo be the answer to the Lakers point guard problems? Could Rondo alone make up for the Lakers lack of offensive depth, or should they make the big trade for Dwight Howard?
Whatever happens for the Lakers, the last few weeks of the season will be very interesting to watch. Matt Barnes and Metta World Peace want to play more physical against teams and not allow their star players to get pushed around anymore. This news is good to hear for Kobe Bryant, because honestly, how many more injuries can he take? With a broken bone in his nose, a recent concussion, and a torn ligament in his wrist its amazing Kobe leads the league in scoring. In fact with all the records Bryant has broken this season — becoming the Lakers all-time field goal leader and the All-Star scoring leader — it’s apparent pain just doesn’t exist for Bryant.
But Bryant alone can’t lead the Lakers to a title. Can the dynamic Pau Gasol/Andrew Bynum duo, the front line that has set the Lakers apart from the rest of the league in the past, find their rhythm in time for the playoffs?
Sunday’s game will be a good test for the Lakers. The Lakers go on a three-game road trip starting Tuesday in Detroit, so a dominating win against the Heat would give the Lakers some momentum as they head out onto the road. And with an atrocious 6-12 road record, the Lakers need all the momentum they can get.
It would come as no surprise if a few hard fouls were committed this Sunday when the Heat come to town. The Lakers know they need to be at their best to secure a win. But first, the Lakers need to take care of a young Kings team on Friday night.
With so many unknowns surrounding the Lakers, the way they end this season will have a major effect on the landscape for next season. Only time will tell whether they fizzle out in the second round of the playoffs or make a serious run at a title. But, for now the Lakers need to focus on one game at a time, pay no attention to the trade rumors and rack up as many wins as possible.
This final home stretch is all about securing the best playoff position possible, and the Lakers need to remember that every time they step out onto the court. If not this season could go into a disastrous direction, but for now optimism and hope remain.