March 9, 2009

Tough Stretch Coming Up for the Lakers

The next four games could be a biggest test for the Los Angeles Lakers for the month of March.

The Lakers will be facing teams favored to enter the Western Conference playoffs: The Portland Trailblazers, the Houston Rockets, the San Antonio Spurs, and the Dallas Mavericks. Of the four games, the first three will be on the road.

Of the four teams in that span, the Spurs and the Rockets pose the biggest post-season threat to the league leading Lakers. (As of this writing, the Lakers are the only team with 50 wins. The Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers both have 49). The Spurs have shown they can hang tough and Coach Gregg Popovich is rationing the playing time of Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili to the point that he's shelving them for games! (Are Duncan and Ginobili aging ungracefully?)

But the first team in order is the Blazers.

For the second time this season, the much-touted Andrew Bynum versus Greg Oden matchup is nowhere to be found. Bynum has been out since January and Oden has been out since last month with a knee injury. The  argument for both teams is whether they are actually better with their young big men down-- the Lakers have won 13 out of the 16 games Bynum is out, and the Blazers have won 7 out of 10 since Oden went down.

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