Lake Show Life editor Chris Shellcroft was nice enough to stop by Air Alamo even though his favorite team was subjected to a display of pinpoint passes and perimeter shooting last night. What a class act. I’m not sure I’d be capable of analyzing two losses by double-digits (sorry to pour it on) to a hated rival. Nevertheless … enjoy. (Editor’s note: my contribution to the discussion can be found here.)
Who do you believe is the X-factor that could vault the Lakers into an elite team?
Chris Shellcroft: I’d have to say Metta World Peace. When he’s playing that infectious style of harassing defense and gets involved on offense it creates all kinds of problems for the opposition. He’s been playing his best ball of the season lately but as you can see that still isn’t enough. Matt Barnes can bring some of that same energy, making hustle plays and finding cheap buckets. Still, they need more than that to become elite. Until there’s a James Harden type in purple and gold, everyone not named Kobe, Drew or Pau are X-factors.
Is the Lakers’ lack of depth going to hurt them in the playoffs or is this a non-issue?
CS: Depth has been an issue all season long. During the playoffs all teams tighten up their rotations but the squads with depth are the most prepared for every scenario. For the Lakers, they’ve got only one real way to win night in and night out. They need to play solid D, dominate the boards and control the tempo. Once it gets into trying to match shot for shot, the Lakers don’t have the fire power beyond the big three of Bryant, Bynum and Gasol.
How worried are you about the Spurs’ backcourt tandem of Parker and Ginobili? What do you think the Lakers should do to contain them?
CS: Perimeter defense has been a problem all year for the Lakers. Creative and quick guards like Ginobili and Parker are the worst combo possible for L.A. as you can see from the last two lopsided meetings. Best way to contain them, you’d think, would be to try and force them into the teeth of the D where Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol should be waiting. Problem is when Parker beats his man off the dribble the Lakers start getting lost in their rotations. As they say, you can’t out run the ball and no team moves the rock like the Spurs. At this point you just hope for an off night.
Do you believe that this Lakers team is a legitimate title contender?
CS: I think this team can make some serious noise in the playoffs. You can’t count out a veteran team with three top tier players. That being said I don’t see this team being capable of going toe-to-toe in a seven game series against Memphis, OKC or San Antonio. If the Lakers make it to the Finals my tune will change but getting out of the West is a tall order.
Let’s pretend the Spurs and Lakers face each other in the playoffs. Predict the outcome of the series.
CS: I hope I eat these words … I’ll take Spurs in 6. This is a much different Spurs team than we’ve seen in years past. Popovich has them playing an up tempo style that gives the Lakers all kinds of problems. If this were a half court battle I’d take the Lake Show. So long as the Lakers try to run their chances are Tayshaun Prince (slim).