May 3, 2007

Lakers Playoff Story 2007: Elimination and Humiliation

A post-mortem of the Lakers 2007 playoff campaign would show two things: the Los Angeles Lakers are a few years from becoming an elite team again and the Phoenix Suns showed them how to play team ball.

After the Lakers were booted out of contention in Game 5 in Phoenix, a few telling stats more or less reveal how the Suns execution overwhelmed the Lakers:
  1. Assists - I have to admit that Steve Nash was the main difference here. The assists ratio was 7:4 in favor of the Suns. That means the Suns had 75% more assists that the Lakers output.
  2. Defense - The Suns played better defense compared to last year. The Lakers averaged less than 96 points a game. The Lakers lineup of Smush Parker, Jordan Farmar and Sasha Vujacic wasn't able to slow down the Suns' backcourt.
  3. Amare Stoudemire - Amare was the biggest difference between a 7-game series and a 5-game beating. The Lakers has no answer to Stoudemire, who averaged around 24 points and 13 rebounds in the series.
The Lakers seemed to be resigned even before Game 5. Brian Kamenetzky pointed out that the Lakers exuded a "palpable Dead Man Walking vibe" during practice before the game. The obviously already knew the better team has won.

Also, I predicted the Suns would win in 6. For a Laker fan or any sports fan, knowing your team is over-matched is like a punch in the gut.

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