05 November 2008

Lakers Chat, Part 3-0 Going For 4-0 (It's Practically a Guaranteed Victory, They're Hosting the Clippers)

You are getting Lakers Chat before each expected victory whether you like it or not. They've got a long way to go before they break Houston's record of 15-0 to start a season, and they have an eternity in NBA terms before they get close to my earlier prediction that they could go undefeated in the remainder of the 2008 calendar year, but with all that said, they look very solid, and capable of beating any team, any night, under any conditions.

Their first two games they were outstanding, combining efficiency on offense with a devastating defense to defeat Portland and the Clippers by a combined 58 points. In some ways their 3rd victory against Denver was more impressive. Nothing was going right offensively, and their defense was poor, but they still were able to shut down Denver in the 4th quarter and they escaped with a 7 point victory in their first real road game. Being able to beat a decent team on the road when you shoot a lousy 37.9% from the field is a strong indicator that this is not only a good team, not only the team that looks like the best team in the league at the moment, but also has the potential to be an historically good team if everything clicks in place.

Putting Odom with the 2nd unit has been a brilliant choice so far, and the real star of the first three games for the Lakers hasn't been Kobe, or Bynum, or Gasol, but instead, it's been Trevor Ariza. His energy and explosiveness on offense coupled with solid defense (which is likely to only get better as the season goes on) has helped Kobe spend more time on the bench, and helped the 2nd unit for the Lakers slaughter each opponents bench. Opposing coaches have a rough decision to make when playing the Lakers, leave in your starters and watch the Lakers 2nd unit run rings around them as they tire, or put in your own 2nd unit, and watch as a far more skilled Lakers bench pick them apart.

The Lakers can beat teams even when they don't play their best, to lose, the Lakers have to underperform, and at the same time their opponent has to put forth their best possible game. I don't expect that to happen against them that often, and there are a bunch of regular season records that this team will challenge as the season drags on (assuming they all stay healthy, they can survive injuries and still be a 60 win team, but to be a 70 or 75 win team, they need to not only be absurdly talented, which they are, but also lucky enough to avoid injuries to key players through all 82 games).

The Clippers have the honor of being the Lakers only opponent this week, odd schedule for the Lakers, and they'll need the rest since their facing some good teams next week.

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