NBA Playoffs: Predicting the Los Angeles Lakers’ Road to the Finals

Believe it or not, there is a road to the NBA Finals for the Los Angeles Lakers.  And, yes, there is a Santa Claus.  And sometimes, money grows on trees.

The Jekyll and Hyde Lakers are in typical late-season form: In other words, they are a big question mark.

The Lakers defeated a very good Clippers team, 113-108, Wednesday night at Staples Center.  This time, there was enough passion, execution and maturity by the visitors to overcome a Clippers team that plays with reckless abandon and a youthful desire to embarrass their opponents.

If nothing else, this much-needed win by the Lakers provided a glimpse into what type of effort they'll need in the postseason to make a strong run.

Is there a road to the finals for Kobe Bryant and the rest of the Lakers this year?  There is indeed, although it's filled with potholes and landmines in the form of such formidable foes as San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Denver, Memphis and, yes, the Clippers.

I've been saying it all year and will continue to do so until proven wrong: Game after game we are witness to two different Lakers teams—the passionate, hungry, well-executing bunch that can bury opponents with precision passing, aggressive post play and stifling defense; and the lackadaisical, foot-off-the-pedal group who thinks the game ends after 36 minutes and lacks that killer instinct that you need to win championships.

So, which Lakers team is about to emerge as the playoffs loom around the corner?  I personally think this club needs to play with a slight chip on its collective shoulders in order to go deep.  Otherwise, one of the teams in the Western Conference will absolutely take them out in the first or second round.

In the Clippers game, the Lakers took it up a notch as if they already were in the playoffs, as if this game had meaning, which it did.  Despite some slam dunk antics of Blake Griffin on Pau ...

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