PLAYOFF DIARY: DAY 32
I know I’m getting a little behind with my playoff diary. It’s a busy time in my world, but I’m easing up my schedule over the coming weeks so I can get back to blogging long and hard. A lot has been written about game 1 between the Lakers and Spurs. How Kobe went from facilitator to scorer, how the 20 point deficit “didn’t feel like 20 points”, how Manu totally stunk up the joint, etc. So I’m not going to talk about all of that. I just want to say two things:
- Kobe Bryant right now is not only leading our Playoff MVP Tally, but is playing on a ridiculously high level. He’s playing so well that it looks like he’s controlling everything, like pulling strings in a puppet show. Think about what he did in this game. He decided to get his team mates involved from the start. When they were down 10 or 15 he decided to keep at it, driving and kicking, making the extra pass, getting shots for guys like Radmanovic and Fisher (even though Fish wasn’t making any). When the Lakers were down 20, Kobe decided to flick the switch and bring them back. The Spurs didn’t have a choice, it was Kobe’s decision. The Spurs play the best team defense in the league, and they have the league’s best perimeter defender in Bowen. Kobe made a complete mockery of all of them… in one half. I fear this game might be overlooked as the series stretches on and the Lakers advance to the Finals. But it is right up there with Kobe’s other classic playoff performance against the Spurs – number 2 on my list of Kobe’s Top 10 games. Watching Kobe Bryant right now is a treat, there’s no other way to describe it.
- The psychological boost this win gives the Lakers is immeasurable. They are a young team, they haven’t been to the Conference Finals before. Going down by 20 to the Spurs would kind of scare you a little, wouldn’t you think? Especially in game 1. It would make you feel completely out of their league. When I was watching this game I remember thinking, “the Lakers just need to go into damage control now… forget the win, they just need to make sure they don’t get blown out by 30″. The fact they came back and won says a lot about their belief and resolve. It really doesn’t get any tougher than this. Going down 20 points in the third quarter against the Spurs is probably the worst position they’ll be in all series. I’m still gonna go with Lakers in 7, but watching Kobe only play half a game today, and watching D-Fish and Odom combine for 4-21, I’d say the Lakers can get a lot better.
Day 32’s Playoff MVP Votes
3 votes – Kobe Bryant. Continues to make me think he can’t play a bad game these playoffs.
2 votes – Pau Gasol. Gave Kobe a real target on the inside and finished a lot of tough plays. I think these two already have the chemistry and shared brain that Kobe and Shaq took five years to develop.
1 vote – Sasha Vujacic. He’s become one of my favorite guys in the league now, there I said it. Love his energy, his belief that he can get off a shot whenever he wants, his belief that jacking up a quick three is sometimes better than passing to Kobe (and that takes balls), and now we can add to that his defense and hustle. No one in this league annoys me more than Manu Ginobili, so the guy that successfully annoys Manu for most of the 48 minutes gets not only my respect, but my votes.