Lakers fans share pragmatic view of team's performance against Phoenix
As I’ve blogged on the Lakers over the last four months, I’ve seen the ebb and flow of readers’ comments: After a loss, it’s suggested the team trade its entire roster; after a winning streak, the team is called unbeatable.
As a consequence, some muse that fans always overreact to the Lakers’ successes and failures. I would argue that coaches, players and the media are overreacting to the fans, accusing them of making too big of a deal about a win or a loss. Although some fans tend to go to extremes, the comments on this blog seem pretty even keel to me, reflecting an honest reaction to certain parts of the game as well as the ability to see the big picture.
It’s the repetition – the echo chamber among fans and the media -- that can make it seem like subjects are overblown. Are people really making that big a deal about Phoenix's zone defense? Or does it just appear that way because you've read numerous articles about the same subject? And just because a player or coach has heard the same question for the hundredth time, it could be that particular reporter’s first time asking that question. It just feels like a broken record.
That said, let’s look at the poll results on the current Western Conference Finals matchup between the Lakers and Suns. No doubt, Lakers fans aren't pleased with the team's play, with 45% of voters grading the performance against Phoenix a C. As far as how fans view the series, with the Lakers winning the first two games followed by Phoenix taking two at home, the majority (39%) believed the dynamic changed very little because they knew the series would be competitive. Only 26% bought into the notion that the Lakers were distracted with a Lakers-Celtics NBA Finals matchup, with 49% saying the team had looked ahead but that had little to do with the performances against Phoenix.
In fact, the only big concern Lakers fans actually had involved the health of center Andrew Bynum, who has played through torn cartilage in his right knee. The majority of voters (59%) said they were very worried about Bynum's injury, with 39% saying the Lakers could make do without him in the West Finals but wondering how he'd fare in the NBA Finals against Boston. There were also 29% of voters who believed Bynum had shown little sign of improvement.
Lakers fans have a lot more confidence in other areas. That confidence mostly stemmed from the fact that 84.4% of fans believed Kobe Bryant's dominance would make the difference. His improved health has coincided with a stretch where he's scored at least 30 points in nine of the last 10 games. That doesn't mean Lakers fans are content with different weaknesses, with 48% of fans saying the Lakers' struggles with Phoenix's 2-3 zone, the team allowing the Suns to come back in the series and the overall inconsistency are causes for concern.
Nonetheless, 53% of Lakers fans predicted the team would win the series in six, meaning the Lakers would win Game 5 tonight and close out the series Saturday.
-- Mark Medina
Credit: Phoenix center Robin Lopez, left, knocks the ball away from Lakers center Andrew Bynum during Game 4 on Tuesday. Photo: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times.