With a win last night, the Los Angeles Lakers have pulled within two games of the Houston Rockets for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Lakers are 4-1 since the All-Star break and 11-5 in their last 16. Kobe Bryant guaranteed the team would reach the postseason and Steve Nash is starting to really adapt to the Lakers’ role that went from juggernaut to long shot in just a few months.
"It's going to be a tough ride trying to get into the playoffs, but that's going to make it fun," Nash said. "Let's try to overcome the odds and try to get back in there and see if we can scare some people. I think you got some veterans on the team that enjoy this time. Let's enjoy being the underdogs. Let's enjoy the pressure, let's welcome it and let's embrace it and allow it to elevate our process and elevate our progress."
So let’s assume they can pull it off.
In this hypothetical world, the Lakers could see a potential 1 vs. 8 (or 2 vs. 7 if the Spurs want to keep losing to teams like Phoenix) matchup with the Spurs in the first round. Should the Spurs be excited or scared of this possibility?
I talked about this a little bit on the podcast, and I still say, no matter what happens in the regular season, the Spurs do not want to see the Lakers in the playoffs.
Maybe it’s a little bit of historical bias subconsciously creeping into my brain, maybe I’m overrating the team just because of the names on the roster, but this Lakers team was built to win a championship. In a seven game series, with their collection of All-Stars on the floor, no matter how old or beat up, this team is scary.
If I’m a Spurs fan, I’m hoping to see Houston or Utah in that first round and the Lakers in the ninth spot. Or perhaps an even better scenario, the Thunder have to get past the Lakers in the first round. That might actually benefit the Spurs.
I know Spurs fans hate the Lakers and their fans, and vice versa, and are really enjoying watching the team struggle this year. I’d keep wishing they don’t get it together, because if they do, that could mean trouble.
What about you? Would you dread or welcome a first-round matchup with the Lakers?