Should the Lakers be gunnin’ for that No. 1 spot?
Andrew Kamenetzky and I continue our on-going conversation about the Spurs-LakersÂ rivalry. Â ESPN LA’s Land O’ Lakers blog publishedÂ my thoughts on the current Spurs/Lakers scuffle. And they have anotherÂ nice post going about the Spurs/Lakers rivalry to further satiate your mid-afternoon baller blog fix. Elsewhere,Â Henry Abbott is riffing on Scott Sereday’s Advanced Scouting from earlier today. (Or, if you’re willing to read any old thing about L.A. basketball, Hoopspeak is running something I wrote about John Wooden as part of their on-going interaction with a University of Michigan course on basketball cultures.) Busy day.
Back to Spurs/Lakers. For his part in our exchange, Andy Kamenetzky addresses the question of whether the Lakers are sunk without home court advantage in the postseason:
Ah, the never-ending Kamenetzky brothers debate. Brian delved into the topic after the Christmas Day debacle when the Lakers were merely five games behind the Spurs. (Nostalgia!) Disconcerting data was crunched and in a nutshell, history hasn’t been kind to the road team. (Although ironically, the Western Conference Finals, where these teams would theoretically meet, features the best visitor percentage). This prospect has troubled my brother, and I don’t think he’d pick the Lakers in a road series.
Personally, I’m not as concerned. Given a choice, I’d obviously rather have HCA, and watching the Lakers fritter it away through carelessness hasn’t been fun. But I don’t consider it make or break for a team with the Lakers’ collective experience. People always mention how the Lakers couldn’t have won that grueling Game 7 against the Celtics in Boston, and they’re probably right. But I think that’s arguably irrelevant, because last season’s team isn’t this season’s team. Conquering that pressure cooker adds an invaluable level of confidence impossible to manufacture from thin air. Between that and so many other unique perspectives, I don’t think the Lakers would be daunted at the prospect of a must-win on the road.
Would it be hard? Of course. But it’s supposed to be hard, as I’ve reminded our readers.
Interestingly, the Spurs (along with the Celtics) are the only other teams I don’t personally believe “need” home court, either. Getting HCA against a team like Miami is as much about stealing an opponent’s life blood as gaining a tangible advantage. But San Antonio doesn’t strike me as a team that would live or die by HCA, another reason this particular situation doesn’t automatically alarm me. At the end of the day, the victor between these teams will be decided by execution and skill, not location.
Of course, this is all predicated on the Lakers regaining their excellence and cranking it up several notches (which I still think will happen). Otherwise, it would be a short postseason with every game at Staples.