The NBA Playoffs are Set: Can Kobe-less Lakers Knock Off the Spurs in First Round?

Photo credit: Kirby Lee / USA TODAY Sports

Laker haters, unite!

(I’m no Lakers fan. Just a dude who loves playoff basketball.)

You can drop your word hammers below as to how wrong I’m about to be, but I’m still stating it boldly: the Lakers, rolling out of a tumultuous, odd, melodramatic regular season, will make a serious playoff run.

It’s really not so bold to suggest the No. 7 seed L.A. Lakers will handle the No. 2 seed San Antonio Spurs, is it?

As busted as the Lakers seem, losing Kobe Bryant to a season-ending Achilles tendon tear, they’re still not as busted as the San Antonio Spurs. However, the Lakers won’t beat the Spurs due to injury or age, as those are comparable variables. They’ll beat the Spurs for a much simpler reason: the Lakers are a better team.

The Lakers have gained potential for a playoff run with the loss of Bryant. It’s a chemistry issue. Having no need to consider the shot attempts and activity of Bryant, this squad will be able to work inside-out through the most dominant (and possibly whiniest) big man in the league, Dwight Howard.

An easy example: Pau Gasol dropped a triple-double in the regular season finale. Since the injury that “doomed” the Lakers season, back up point guard Steve Blake has averaged 23 points and six assists per game. Yeah, it’s just a couple of games, but you can see where I’m going. We know that Steve Nash can fill the bucket as needed, and he’s far more effective and efficient in the pick and roll (and when he’s dropping dimes). Work it in to Howard, hit Gasol for the pick and pop or find the artist formerly known as Ron Artest in the corner for the three ball.

With most experts suggesting the Spurs will win in six, I’ll state the opposite. I can’t be so bold or stupid as to say the Lakers will sweep the Spurs, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see it. The Spurs are reeling.

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