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Poll Question: Would the Lakers be better off as the No. 2 seed?

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It might sound like a stupid question, knowing the Lakers have been fighting for Western Conference supremacy as soon as they saw San Antonio reeling.

It's also not in the Lakers makeup to want to lose games, especially during April when the playoffs near and the team's sharpness and development proves more crucial than during those ho-hum regular season games in mid January.

And even if it is a legitimate question, the Lakers certainly aren't going to concede it, preferring that sports writers avoid this storyline and that they don't want to come across as being disrespectful to the game and to its opponent.

But it's still a topic many are debating even among several corners in this forum with the interests in mind that the Lakers three-peat. Would they be better off allowing San Antonio to take the No. 1 seed in the West and settle for second place? Predictably, Lakers Coach Phil Jackson appeared to find the logic absurd as he finished preparation for Sunday's game against the Denver Nuggets in hopes that they can close the Spurs 1 1/2 game lead for first place. He simply offered coachspeak. "We're playing every game for what it's worth," he said. "Tomorrow is Denver and then we'll move on from there. We want to win every game we can win."

Here's why, however, even the staunchest Laker fans are having this debate. Assuming the Lakers advance past the first round, whether it's Portland, New Orleans or Memphis, having the No. 2 seed would setup a semifinal matchup with the Dallas Mavericks. Meanwhile, securing the top spot in the Western Conference would pit the Lakers against Oklahoma City in the semifinals. The Lakers just proved last week in a double-digit victory against Dallas that Dirk Nowitzki, a depthful bench and Shawn Marion may be enough to absorb Caron Butler's season-ending knee injury, but by no means matches up with the Lakers in several categories. That includes toughness as Matt Barnes stood up for Steve Blake after Mavericks guard Jason Terry shoved him to the ground, while no one came to Terry's defense. It includes size, as 7-1 Tyson Chandler and 7-0 Brendan Haywood are no match for two seven-footers in Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol and versatile 6'10" swingman Lamar Odom. And it includes playoff prowess, with the Lakers coming off two consecutive titles and the Mavericks facing first-round elimination in three of the last four years.

That's why Barnes sounded giddy in possibly seeing Dallas again in the postseason, remembering when he was on the 2007 Golden State Warriors team that knocked the Mavericks out of the first round as a eighth seed.

"In Golden State, we showed how to beat Dallas," Barnes said. "You go in there and take it right to their chin and they back down. I don't see anything has changed since then, so hopefully we'll have a chance to see them again."

And if the Lakers see Oklahoma City instead? Sure, they can draw on their 2-0 regular-season mark this season, their vastly superior playoff experience and the fact they held them off in the first round of the 2010 playoffs. But last year's matchup with the Thunder is the exact same reason why the Lakers would want to avoid them. As talented as the Lakers are, the Thunder has everything the defending champs don't, including youth, speed and athleticism, led by Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. The fact the Thunder acquired Kendrick Perkins from Boston gives some answer to the Lakers' size and experience. So if it took Kobe Bryant to go on a scoring spree to secure Game 2 and a Gasol tip-in to secure Game 6 after suffering embarrassing blowouts in Games 3 and 4, imagine how difficult the stakes will be this season. That's not to say the Thunder will beat them this time around. But they'll at least make the navigation toward the title more difficult.

The Lakers are correctly not allowing this topic to consume them.

"It really doesn't matter," Lakers forward Lamar Odom said about the seeding. "You want to play your best basketball. Who you meet and where you meet in the playoffs, I think that's what scared teams do. They try to position themselves. You're going to have to play them or play a team that beat them somewhere down the line. So it really doesn't matter. We're not going to run from a team not to finish first. That's what it's all about. That's the problem with some teams. Not to take a shot at anybody, from being around Phil, Kobe and Derek, we look up at the banners. We don't put division titles up and things like that.

"Our goal is to be the best team and if we can finish as the beat team in the West, that's an accomplishment. We're not going to run from that.

Instead, the Lakers are embracing in perfecting the various nuances that have led to a 17-1 mark since the All-Star break. Jackson said he's increased practice time to sharpen the team's focus. Bynum's become a defensive lynchpin and rebounding machine, the reason why Jackson characterized his presence the "difference between a really good team and a team that could be a championship team." Lakers forward Ron Artest has appeared more engaged offensively. Bryant and Gasol have kept their usual consistency. And so has Odom, who fought through a stomach flu in the Lakers' 96-85 victory Friday over the Utah Jazz by simply forgetting about the pain and avoided the temptation to skip Saturday's practice because he wanted to prepare for Denver. 

That kind of mindset helped ensure the Lakers overcoming a 17-point deficit against Utah and helped them realize that putting together a nine-game winning streak goes beyond playing perfect basketball. It also involves them figuring out how to grind out and play through bad stretches.

"You're going to have bad games in a stretch when you win and people have to able to win because of it," Jackson said. "I think that's something this team's recognized. We're not going to play 100% every night, but we have a defense that holds us in."  

Falling into the trap in worrying about playoff positioning and seeding takes away from that mindset. But what about as a Lakers fan? Should fans think the same thing that the Lakers will be unstoppable so long as they play quality basketball? Or would you rather have the Lakers go through an easier terrain in facing the Thunder instead of the Mavericks, in hopes that's one less variable they have to worry about in securing a championship?

Vote in the poll and explain why in the comments section below.

--Mark Medina

E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Photo: Kobe Bryant guards OKlahoma City forward Kevin Durant during the Lakers' 90-87 victory in February. If the Lakers move into first place in the Western Conference, they could get a tough matchup against the Thunder in the second round of the playoffs. Credit: James Schammerhorn/Associated Press

 
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zzzzzzz

Silly question, they need to win every game! The Lakers can beat anyone in the West so 1st vs 2nd seed is irrelevant.

What's more IMPORTANT is that they get a better HCA than the Eastern Champs--particularly since the Bulls play a LOT better at home than on the road.

BTW, when the Warriors beat you (Mavs) with DEFENSE and REBOUNDING, that counts as a major fail.

But are the Thunder even as good as they were last year? They aren't going to surprise anybody, and Drew is healthy. Take the home court advantage and run.

IT IS ALL ABOUT THE LOVE

GO LAKERS!

I hate this poll question - couldn't care less who the Lakers face this postseason - 16 wins, they'll take any and all comers.

You don't worry about who you play n the second round. If you are worrying about that, you aren't the championship team you know the Lakers have proven themselves to be. At best, you worry who has home court advantage in the finals.

Oh oh...Jon K has a stalker...We need a Stalker Police...lmao

{edit}

Oh oh...Jon K has a stalker...We need the RSP...Regular Stalker Police...lmao

[shakes head sadly]

Did anybody watch the Utah game on ESPN? There was an odd audio malfunction where the commentators could not be heard but the game sounds still came through. I found it so refreshing - it was like being at the game. Typically in that type of malfunction, all the audio goes, but the way it happened here was a first in MANY games I've seen on TV. Anyhow - just wondering if anybody else appreciated that as much as I did? It would be pretty cool if there was an option to mute the commentators without muting the sound of the game. The customer is King! Make it happen Time Warner! lol

Also - this may have been discussed elsewhere, but to me the key to the 2nd half turn around against Utah was switching Bynum to guard Al Jefferson. I can only recall one bucket that Al got on Andrew in the key - most of the time he didn't even challenge Drew with posting up. Quite a contrast to how he attacked Pau in the post. Putting Pau on the bigger "kitty cat" fesenko wasn't a problem given the limited offensive skills he presented. That was a great move by the Laker coaches that seemed to really bring Utah's offense to a grinding halt.

It's a real feather in the cap for Bynum's post all star game defensive dominance - which I believe will result in a playoff run as dominant as the record 16-1 waltz from the Kobe/Shaq era. Just keeping my fingers crossed that we all stay healthy - that to me is the only obstacle that can stop this incredible Laker team.

Well... even though I haven't been able to post much, I try to scan & keep up with everyone as much as I can..

I haven't had a chance for a couple of weeks, but it looks like the world's gone all topsy turvey!

Justa had a stalker, Mamba24 has disappeared, and bloggers are at each other's throats. Oh, and I've been taken off the roll call; y'all couldn't have just marked me down as absent?

Still coming to terms with Rick's passing, this all makes me sad.

As phred says, "it's all about the love" can't we all just show a little more love?

Anna

Mavs lose the Warriors? Yikes!

Posted by: jefe101 | April 02, 2011 at 10:30 PM

Looks like Matt Barnes's twitter comment inspired his old franchise while helping his current one. I didn't see the game, but I'm guessing the Warriors "Punked" the Mavs. lol

Also noteworthy - the Clippers downed the Thunder. Whether it's the Thunder or the Mavs in the 2nd round, just give me a healthy Laker roster and it won't matter.

I think this analysis regarding OKC-LAL match up form last year play-off is outdated .. At that time, we're playin with injured kobe and bynum..not only injured but kobe played without 2 fingers and a single knee.. and bynum not even close to where he is right not.. and the fact that our bench is way better compared to last year's... I dont have any doubt that our LAKERS can handle OKC in 5 games....

lets get that ring..

GO LAKERS

Lakers will beat the Thunder 4-0 in the playoffs as long as the team are healthy.Kobe the greatest player of all time.Lakers all the way to three peat baby!!!

I only really worry about seeding in the Finals and because Chicago plays very well at home.

We match up well enough with anyone in the Western Conference that we don't really need to have someone else do our dirty work for us.

Sure, OKC is a little better, but they're hardly terrifying. And yes, we do have the Mavs number it seems, but so what.

The wildcard is Denver, but it's still Denver, overachieving in part because I think they have a slightly underrated coach.

Compadre Adrian calling the sweep on the Thunder...you heard it here first...

17-1 since the RSP showed up, nice coincidence. Practice Season before the all-star game, Regular Season after, Real Season the playoffs.

LakerTom, here's a hint, I still blog under my other handle so thinking about absent bloggers is a wrong turn. I will present an obvious clue soon but there have been quite a few sublte ones previously.

NBA4ever-Dude...this is ON POINT.
Seriously stop watching and listening to nuts like Limbaugh and Beck because that performance was verbatim the little twisted propaganda they convey when they want to express their opinions.

Number one seed and home court throughout the playoffs, who doesn't want that? Like Herm Edwards said : "Hello?! You play to win the game!"

Hell to the no! I want us to have a #1 seed to put all the reporters to shame! 3 months ago no one thought that the Lakers would make it to the finals (reporters) and we never had a doubt.
We proved them wrong.

The trolls have since trickled out.
18-1 tomorro I can feel it!

thanks to the clippers and warriors

what a bonehead you are Mark Medina for writing. The lakers true test is in the east not the west. Get the number 1 spot so lakers will have homecourt all through the playoffs. Look at the bigger picture

In another discussion, I posted that I am not interested in the Lakers gaining the top seed in the West, but that I'd rather see them champions of the West. It would seem however that if the Lakers continue to be tied with Chicago, then the Bulls will have HCA over them because of Rose and Co.'s win record against Western teams. Now, if the Lakers get top seed over both East and West, surpassing the Spurs and getting the best win-loss record overall (better even than that of the East's No. 1), then that would seem to be the ideal goal.

I dunno MM... I enjoyed the post a lot, but this to me is not a legitimate question. Fun to talk about, maybe. Legitimate, no. This question would have been shot down in an instant in my circle of friends. Actually, it probably wouldn't even be brought up.

I voted for option 3, but I probably should have voted for option 4. It personally matters to me to get the top because it shows that they are playing well. But even if they don't, they might still be playing better than everyone else comparatively. So it doesn't matter in that respect.

Go LAKERS!!!

If you asked Kobe this question, he'd say "Are you ****ing kidding me. Next question."

sorry for the double posts... internet is slow

Sometimes it's bad karma to talk about 'gaming' the system, especially when not trying your best. First or second seed doesn't matter, it's all about the "W"s

Perkins doesn't mean much for OKC's defense. It's Ibaka behind him, not KG. they aren't locking anybody up. knock on wood, but with a healthy and motivated Bynum? forget it.

keep winning and let the rest of the teams heading in to the playoffs lose sleep on how they're going to beat us.

Hey Bloggers, I just watched the best youtube video of all time on Kobe Bryant. I thought I'd share it with you guys. It's epic.

Who is Kobe Bryant?
Complete Breakdown of Kobe Byrant's Game
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M2QqT0-6wuc&feature=related

Dunking, Passing, Fundamentals, Defense, Swag, Jumper, Buzzer Beaters, Trick shots, Champion-- That my friends, is Kobe Bryant.

This is an absurd question and I hope no TRUE Lakers fan takes it seriously.

The Lakers have the correct mindset. It's about winning as many games as we can and getting better as a team. We're playing for titles and to do that you will end up seeing tough competition that'll give you fits.

And let me say this. It's crazy that the OKC is getting all of this credit based on a series from last season! The Lakers limped into that series losers of 7 of their last 10 games. Kobe was out for 4 of them. He had to get his knee drained during the series! This year is NOTHING close to last year. The Lakers are hot, focused, and determined. Kobe is already in playoff mode. Odom and Gasol are playing better than ever. Plus--and I hope this doesn't jinx us--we finally have a healthy, confident Andrew Bynum coming down the stretch run! Btw how many series have OKC won?

Avoid OKC? OKC should avoid us!

Oh, and I wouldn't concern myself w/ the Bulls. Even if they happen to meet us in the Finals (which they won't) w/ HC it won't do them any good. We'll simply take game 1, maybe game 2, and end the series at Staples. After all these Bulls are just as proven in the playoffs as OKC w/ 0 series wins.

I completely agree with what some people are posting here. Let's go hard for the #1 seed. There is NO reason to be "scared" of OKC. It simply doesn't make sense. For one, they haven't even beaten us this season. For 2, the Lakers' new defensive scheme will prevent free unguarded forays into the paint by Westbrook, & will run Durant and others off the 3 point line. For 3, 4, 5, & 6... a healthy and monstrous Bynum.

In 2002 we won with #2 seed. I guess we can do it again....

@the champishere-
I agree with you, the Thunder hasn't done anything to cause the Lakers to fear them in any round in the playoffs? Did the Thunder win any Championships the past 2 years that the Lakers need to avoid them?
When it comes to the playoffs, the Lakers need not to avoid any team period. Every team in the Playoffs need to avoid the Lakers in order to advance.

Lakers rule no matter who they meet! Let's rock and roll Los Angeles!

We will play anyone who wants to challenge us. True champs avoid no one.

While it's understandable that we all want to put our unique stamp of perspective on things, when the team says "one game at a time" and "continue to improve", they mean it. With that in mind, those who focus on the game at hand will tend to win more games than if they don't.

So basically the question posed here is "Should they relinquish focus on winning the current game for the sake of drawing an easier matchup in the earlier rounds of the playoffs?" I don't think so. Every game is practice winning in game situations.

While some might consider that you can still practice playing well and give the bench more time in the process, allowing starters to rest, etc. etc., not trying to win is like practicing to lose.

Now, would we as fans rather that the Spurs play the Thunder in the second round? Maybe. And maybe the Thunder would take 'em, maybe not. But statistically speaking, the Spurs would gain a bigger advantage with home court. Why would you want them to have it?

And then, why would you want to fly to Chicago for game 1 of the finals? For the challenge, you say? Then why not play the Thunder in the second round, I mean, if you want a challenge.

Me? I wanna see 'em beat the Nuggets tonight.

Would the Lakers be better off as the No. 2 seed?

Is that the same as asking should the Lakers intentionally lose a game or two so they don't get the top seed?

In the infamous words of Andrew Bynum, "are you serious"?

The only thing more ridiculous than that question is that there are actually 68 people (at this time) that actually voted yes.

Diandra,

And that's why a picture's worth a thousand words.

That was funny and kinda cute too.

But of course, just as a royal flush always trumps a full house,
dogs trump cats, always.

I can understand someone having a cat as a pet because their living arrangement or lifestyle is such that if they had a dog they wouldn't be able to properly care for it. But if all things were equal, for anyone to actually choose a cat over a dog is just, well, the person must have indeed been infected with some of Jon K's well documented parasites.

Lakers ain't scared of no one. I would feel more comfortable with Lakers playing Mavericks but if they get #1 seed I'd be totally fine. And we don't even know if Thunder will make it past first round because the Nuggets have a big chance to upset OKC. Also I still kinda believe this Perkins trade is overrated. Also the Thuner have NEVER won at staples center. When Lakers play defense to there fullest potential I believe no one can beat them. Also lately Kevin Durant has been struggling and he always struggles against the Lakers because of Ron Artest physical defense, the only person Lakers gotta worry about is Russel Westbrook but Gasol and Bynum will build a wall around the paint where Westbrook lives at and just keep him shooting jumpshots even though he's improved his jumper a little bit.

I, for one, am not convinced that the Perkins trade made OKC better. If Perkins was so doggone good, the Celtics would have extended him. Perkins is a big body and a mean face, but not much else. You think the Lakers are worried about Pekins? I don't.

On the subject of this thread, I say win all the games you can and let the chips fall where they may. That's what champions do.

Best record = HCA in finals and Kobe has slim chance of MVP.

Yea Kobe has slim chance of MVP regular season.
But Kobe is not a regular player.
Take that to the bank.
Kobe does not play for 82 game lime light.
Kobe plays to become: Lord Of The Rings.
1st one to practice, last one out of practice.
Back when Kobe was a rook he hired me to do some engineering in his home at Pacific Palisades. I saw him wearing # 8 for the 1st time in his home and I said 8 will be your number. You will be to the finals 8 times. Anyway I met his mom and dad Bean. They took me into Kobe's bedroom and Kobe said " I want a Basketball Court Right Here In My Bedroom". I said "OK lets measure your property". As it turns out I had some bad news for him . "Kobe you don't have the land for it". He said "What do I need?". I said " The neighbors property". He said "Ok". To make a long story short , Kobe paid cash for the neighbors property . I completed his project and got me a Kobe rookie card as a gift along with a big fat check.
Thats my Kobe Story.
Surveyor Meets Mr. Dedication.

LOS ANGELES LAKERS GAME DAY

April 3, 2011
Game #76
Los Angeles Lakers vs Utah Jazz
Venue: Staples Center
Record: 55-20
Standings: Clinched Pacific Division
Western Conference: #2
Leauge Record: Tied #2
Current Streak: Won 9

LA TIMES LAKERS BLOG ROLL CALL

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All together now...May we stay focused and have the inner strength to reach our goal of ultimate victory. Keep us free from injuries and injustice. Keep us strong, determined and give us the will and stamina to overwhelm any and all obstacles. We are the Los Angeles Lakers, and we spread the FEAR. No one can beat us but ourselves, and we say to all, bring it on! THE LAKER FAMILY WILL PREVAIL. LOS ANGELES LAKERS 2009-2010 NBA CHAMPIONS!

.


.

I prefer the Lakers play through all the best teams in the playoffs. Makes winnin' time that much sweeter.

You can always tell spring has arrived when the Laker tee shirts start blooming in the Central Valley.

It's springtime.

GO LAKERS ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

Well look here. A little 16-1 run and the trolls have vanished. It's practically become possible to read comments again.

The Lakers should play each game in the best way to prepare for playoffs - whether that means win at all cost or resting certain players. The only team that I feel it is imperative to hold home court advantage is Boston. If they return to form, a game 7 in Boston has historically been a difficult challenge.

Also, the blog all but assumes that OKC would beat Denver in first round. I don't think that is a reasonable assumption as Denver will be a tough out. I would call that series a coin flip. Actually, should be a great series to watch. Today's game should be interesting as well.

??????

Once again... The Lakers are the freakin' Borg! Resistance is futile! You will be assimmilated (or in our team's case, defeated)! Go Lakers!!!

I was anticipating the eye rolls about the previous thread but let me state a few things. I agree w/ the Lakers mindset that they shouldn't worry about who they play and they aren't doing that. But from a pure practical standpoint, I think OKC is a tougher draw than Dallas

That was darn good LEWSTRS, loved the quote tidbits!


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