Everyone has been waiting for the Los Angeles Lakers to flip that switch and turn into the defending NBA Champions in the midst of a three-peat run that we all expected to see. To date, that hasn’t happened.
So far the only thing that has happened is that Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd and the Dallas Mavericks have marched into LA and punched the Lakers in the mouth twice to take a commanding 2-0 series lead. And judging from the first two games of this series, all is not well in la la land.
You could say that the Lakers gave away game one, after being up by sixteen, they took the foot off the gas pedal and let the Mavericks steal one. But in game 2, the Mavericks just flat out beat LA in almost every facet of the game en route to a convincing 93-81 victory.
Just to put this series in a historical perspective, the Lakers haven’t dropped their first two home games in a playoff series since 1977. Should Lakers nation be concerned? You bet your ass they should be.
We’re used to seeing the Lakers play with complacency throughout the playoffs over the years. This is a team that in years past took seven games to dispose of a Houston Rockets team whose best player was Aaron Brooks. Last year, we saw them struggle with an inexperienced Oklahoma City Thunder squad and this year we saw the New Orleans push the Lakers to six games in a series that for all intents and purposes should have been over in four games.
Trust issues? When you’re often injured young center is talking to the media about how the defending back-to-back NBA champions don’t trust each other instead of talking to other players in the locker-room, I’d say there’s trust issues. Trust issues on defence, trust issues on offense, there’s trust issues throughout this team.
But if you think for one moment that it’s simply a matter of the Lakers playing better, think again. If you look at how Dallas is beating LA, there’s one consistent factor that has nothing to do with how the Lakers are playing and that’s the play of Dirk Nowitzki. The Lakers can’t stop him no matter who they put on him.
It used to be that it was the Lakers who had the one player on the court that could not be contained. Now the shoe is on the other foot. Add to that the fact that Dallas is more than capable of defending the Lakers inside with Haywood and Chandler and the situation becomes dire for the Lakers.
Down 2-0 in the series heading back to a madhouse in Dallas, the Lakers have only one hope to pull this out. Kobe Bryant.
Make no mistake, there are plenty on the line for Bryant especially, he’s just one championship away from tying MJ in rings and opening the door to the discussion that he is arguably the best player of all time. Perhaps the trust issues on the Lakers stem from the fact that nobody on the team seems to want it as bad as Kobe, including Phil Jackson who is already slated to retire after this season.
The Lakers might have to solve the Mavericks without the services of Ron Artest, who lost his damn mind and was ejected after he punched J.J Barea in the kisser.
Forget San Antonio, are we about to witness the biggest upset of the 2011 NBA Playoffs? Does Dallas really have what it takes to close out the defending champs?