2011 NBA Playoffs: Los Angeles Lakers First Round Preview

What a season. The Lakers finished the season with 57 wins, the second best record in the West, and fourth best overall. They are fighting for an unprecedented fourth straight trip to the Finals, and third straight championship, yet many aren't supporting them as this year's favorites.

Maybe people are just tired of the same old thing. It happens to everyone who stays on top for so long. People want something fresh, something new. People who can't support their own team that is. This year, that team is the Bulls, or the Thunder, maybe the Mavericks or the Spurs.

The Finals match-up I really want is Lakers/Celtics, and if I can't get that, I'll settle for handling the Heat. But before I can get excited for a potential three-peat, the Lakers have to get there. There has been a lot of drama this season, but one thing has been certain all year long: the Lakers have beaten the Hornets all four meetings by an average of 10.7 points.

Here are some of the things I'm going to be looking out for in this series, not so much just for this series, but things that I would like the Lakers to establish in this series and take forward through the rest of the post-season.



Who will be on the court for the Lakers when the game is on the line? Will it be Drew and Pau? Will Ron be on the floor? You know three of the guys who will be on the court: Pau, Fisher and Kobe. But will Phil opt to play Barnes instead of Ron? Lamar instead of Ron? Or Lamar instead of Andrew?

Too much talent can sometimes be a problem, and this is one of those situations. Sure, you can never have too much talent, but its also nice to have that late game chemistry. The way Drew has been playing since the break, you would have to think he will be out there in the crunch time situations. Then you think about how well Lamar has been playing all year long, his ability to break down opposing four...

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