Lakers planning to watch Celtics-Magic matchup in preparation for possible Finals appearance
As soon as the Lakers arrive in Phoenix this afternoon, everyone knows exactly where they're going to go once they land.
To a TV set.
Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said the coaching staff plans to watch Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals between the Celtics and Magic, while Lakers guard Jordan Farmar says the team plans to watch the game together somewhere over dinner. Before you go into the whole, "I thought this team wasn't thinking about Boston mantra," let's make it clear that this is hardly newsworthy. Before you go into the whole, "Well why you posting this as a blog item," let me clarify by saying the only reason I'm highlighting this is that it illustrates how the Lakers are taking a pretty realistic and balanced approach between focusing on the Western Conference finals matchup with Phoenix and doing the necessary contingency planning for the future.
Jackson joked the main thing he'll look for in today's game will involve noticing "who's officiating the game." Translation: It never hurts to find any way to get a head start on the psychological matchup. Farmar said the team's simply going to "see what's going on and pay attention and be a good basketball fan and enjoy good basketball." Translation: Watching the game will fuel their excitement for a possible 2008 Finals rematch, leading to inside stories over dinner about that series as well as about players from Boston and Orlando. Something tells me Kevin Garnett's and Matt Barnes' name will get brought up at least a few times.
Perhaps the only concern that will leave Jackson, Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher scratching their heads as well as making Phoenix upset entails Andrew Bynum's take on the possibility the Lakers play Boston in the Finals. I'm sure the Suns and Magic will post the following quote in their locker room and it will be used as evidence that the Lakers are already looking ahead, but I think this quote speaks more to the fact that Bynum never took the lesson in Bull Durham on how athletes are supposed to talk to the media."It's going to be amazing playing against those guys again," Bynum said of a possible Lakers-Celtics matchup. "Because we lost, we're going to have a lot of fuel and a lot of ammo. They're definitely a great team. They have great veterans on their squad. We know that. We're already getting prepared. The first step is closing out Game 3 and then after that, we'll be focusing."
Well to clarify, it's actually after you close out four games, but whatever. No harm, no foul. If anything, I believe the possibility that the Lakers play the Celtics in the Finals only fuels the team harder to close out their West Conference finals. With the rivalry and 2008 Finals fresh in their minds, surely wanting to enter the Finals at their best serves as the best strategy. And in fairness to the Lakers, their lacking urgency went away as early as April. Their struggles late in the season as well as initially in the first round against Oklahoma City pointed more to the team's inconsistent execution and chemistry.
That doesn't mean Phoenix can't pick up a win in Game 3. But if that happens, I suspect that comes as a result of a closely played game or the Suns knocking down their shots. But as far as the Lakers' focus is concerned? I'm not too worried about it. If anything, I'm refreshed to hear the team be so upfront and tactful about their feelings rather than act like Boston and Orlando don't exist.
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