NBA Playoffs 2011: Los Angeles Lakers Game 5 Preview

I apologize in advance for my lack of depth in this post, but it's midterm season and I'm getting ready to take them head on. I just wanted to make sure I got my main thoughts on Game 5 down on paper, because in my mind this is a crucial game.

I'm scared, for a lack of a better word, for Game 5 against the Hornets because the Lakers can't blame the 2-2 series score on lack of effort. They've generally been playing hard, but they just can't stop Chris Paul. Game 1 was tipped in New Orleans' favor due to the bench's ridiculous shooting and Game 4 because of Paul's remarkable effort.

Game 5 needs to be the game where the Lakers put their foot down. Pau Gasol needs to be aggressive, take the ball to the hoop and stop shooting 15- to 18-footers. Lamar Odom needs to attack the basket, hit the cutters and hit the boards hard. Andrew Bynum needs to play intense defense, alter any shot taken within five feet of the hoop and grab every rebound he can.

The Lakers as a team need to commit to slowing Chris Paul down. When he drives, bump him, hit him; when he goes to the hoop, let nothing be easy. I'm not in any way saying that the Lakers should hurt him—that's the last thing I want to see—but they need to toughen up. Take a note from the Celtics that beat them in 2008, or from the Pistons that would try to stop Michael Jordan.

Unfortunately, if the Lakers do proceed to the next round, other than the Mavericks, their potential playoff matchups (Thunder, Bulls, Celtics) all have quick point guards. This has been proven yet again in this playoff series to be the Lakers' Achilles heel. Even the Mavericks have J.J. Barea off the bench who could do a lot of damage against LA.

There is not a shred of me that thinks the Hornets are a better team than the Lakers, but they are showing that talent isn't even close to being the be-all, end-all factor in the playoffs. Determination, teamwork and heart are...

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