The staying power of the Spurs, the fall of the Lakers and the power struggle between the East and the West

I figured I would move away from football a little bit and discuss some NBA. I will be the first one to admit that I know the NFL best but I am intrigued by some of the things happening in the NBA as we approach the playoffs.

The first thing I want to talk about is the age-defying play of the San Antonio Spurs. It really doesn’t make much sense and honestly Greg Popovich is probably to thank for just about all of it. Or maybe it is just cause they seem old. SI pointed out last year during the NBA finals that the Spurs weren’t actually old and that they were on average younger than the Miami Heat. Still this team has within the past 3 weeks caught fire at the right time (Portland, OKC and the Rockets are all sputtering a bit) and shot to the top of the standings. They have finally gotten healthy for one thing and this team has quite possibly some of the strongest chemistry in the NBA. We have all seen what chemistry can do for a team. The first year the “Big 3” were together in Miami they fell short of a title. They built that chemistry up (and found some spectacular role players) to push them over the top and now they have won two straight championships. Looking at the often forgotten Spurs, they have been a stretch run that I believe will carry them to the number one seed in the West. This team I think is a lock for the Conference Finals and has a real chance, if they avoid injuries, to win a title.

On the flip side of the Western Conference sit the Los Angeles Lakers. This is a team that has won 16 NBA championships in its storied history and has been a dominant force in the West for as long as I can remember. That was until last year anyway. The Lakers narrowly missed the playoffs last year; this year, they were the first team in the whole league to be eliminated from playoff contention. With Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash shut down for the rest of the year, the Lakers are going to limp into the off-season. They will likely have a top 5 pick in this year’s NBA draft and will be undergoing their own rebuilding process, something the Lakers almost never have to do. The thing is, I think the Lakers could be a playoff team next year. Not a top four seed but they could sneak in as a 7 if they get healthy and depending on who they hire as a coach (Mike D’Antoni is being fired at the end of the year.) They still have Bryant who is a great competitor and scorer still at this point in his career. They have found some depth in Kent Baezmore and Jodie Meeks. They have a decent point guard in Kendall Marshall. They still have Pau Gasol (for now.) In my mind, the Lakers developed a lot of their younger players and added depth to their roster. Now they need to find some starters though especially at the 3 and the 4. Point guard hasn’t always been a priority in LA while Kobe has been there so I don’t see that starting now. This is a team that is one or two pieces away from returning to being a good basketball team.

The last thing I want to talk about is the absolute canyon in terms of talent between the East and West. The East has its juggernauts (Miami and Indiana) but the West has about 4 with Portland being on the line. The West has 7 teams that have 39 wins or more so far this year; the East has two. Every team in the West has at least 22 wins; the East has three teams that have fewer than 20 wins. The Lakers have the worst record in the West and have been eliminated from the playoffs. The Milwaukee Bucks have 9 fewer wins and still are mathematically alive in the East. The Dallas Mavericks current hold the last playoff spot in the West with a half game lead on the Suns. They would be the third seed in the East with their record. There is such a huge gap between the two conferences. It really is inexplicable. The East is just either mediocre or inconsistent once you get past Indiana and Miami.

That’s all I’ve got for now. I look forward to coming back at some point to talk both Kevin Love and who are the legitimate title contenders.

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