One Question Still Lingers For Lakers: Can They Beat the Cavs?

It's hard to complain about a team that will be the No. 1 seed in a very competitive Western Conference for the third season in a row. Especially one favored to make its third straight NBA Finals appearance.

However, the purple and gold streamers and fresh veneer of a championship trophy mask an uneasy feeling in Lakers Nation. Although this squad is proven, one question still lingers:

Can the Lakers beat the Cleveland Cavaliers?

This whole season has been a timesink because this Lakers team can prove nothing in the regular season. Every win is expected, and every loss is a disappointment. It's been a mundane six months that the fans and the team are both tired of.

Last season, the Lakers and their fans had a chip on their shoulders the size of Santa Monica Pier.

The humiliating loss to the Celtics the season prior left the Lakers bruised and toughened, punctuating their season of redemption with multiple key victories like breaking the Cavs home winning streak, and finally winning in Boston on the second of a back-to-back.

They peaked in the Finals, where the Magic learned that if you give a focused team the faintest of opportunities (Courtney Lee's missed layup in Game 2, and neglecting to guard Derek Fisher's threes in Game 4), a hungry team will strangle you with the slack they're given.

The story is the same in Cleveland, where it's literally championship or bust (and if LeBron James leaves without delivering a championship, bust is not a strong enough word to describe the death blow that city will absorb).

However, the team is different. While still very LeBron-centric, if you took him away they'd no longer be the Clippers-East. For the first time in his career, LeBron has a legitimate surrounding cast. The Antawn Jamison trade reeks of Gasol-trade like potential (and was an even more blatant heist), and their frontline is as deep as Dan Gilbert's pockets.
Article Source: Bleacher Report - Los Angeles Lakers