Hello 40-18-9. How you feeling about LeBron these days?
Long Bui: I pray for mercy because when Lebron wins his first championship it's all over, nobody else is going to win for a long time. Best 1-4 in the league. Maybe even the best five.
John Reyes-Nguyen: LeBron is so easy to hate on. But he's fucking good. There's no one that big, fast, and skilled. I might rub some people the wrong way, but he's the modern day Magic on the court. He's the only player who can get D. Wade traded from the Heat. That's if they don't win it all.
Joe Bernardo: People already know he's the best all around player in the league. These last two games impressed the hell out of me and he might have turned the corner. BUT there's no way he can do it by himself.
Jairo Martinez: Don't mean a thing if you don't get a ring....
Symbol Lai: That stat line tells me that Lebron wants to win in the worst way. He wants this championship so badly that he's going to throw the entire Heat team on his back, kicking and screaming, and drag them to the finals. It's admirable and I hope he gets that championship because he sure has piped down and put his nose to the grindstone this year. But, as this series with the Pacers demonstrates, the Heat are not unbeatable. In fact, without this tremendous effort from Lebron, they can actually be quite helpless.
Andrew Snyder: I'm looking forward to a possible LeBron run where he blows through all the ghosts of LeBron past, much like A Christmas Carol.
In the conference finals, he'll get a chance to vanquish the Celtics Big 3 who before last year, handled his very good Cleveland teams, and in the finals? A chance to avenge his first Finals appearance, when the Spurs dominated the Cavs for their last title. Is it going to happen? Hopefully not - I'd love to see another year of LeBron haterade before he inevitably wins at least a few rings down in Miami.
Spurs or Thunder?
Long Bui: I was watching the LAL's game two at a rare sports bar in DC with the common sense to have all four major sports packages (and be willing to put the Spurs on) and proposed to my friend John, a die-hard Lakers fan, that Spurs-Thunder would be the first pitting of two 8-0 playoff teams. The Spurs had just come off a resounding game 1 win, pundits were beating the "chess to checkers" horse to an untimely grave, and I was over-brimming with confidence. But seriously, it wasn't just that game. watch any of the last 42 or so games at random. This team is a thoroughbred, and while they might not do it in four, San Antonio''ll have another championship come June.
John Reyes-Nguyen: Thunder for sentimental reasons. Fisher is one of my favorite players and Westbrook went to my high school. And because the Lakers only lose to champs.
Joe Bernardo: Spurs. The Lakers proved that if you slow down the game, the Thunder struggle. Unfortunately (for me), the Lakers couldn't sustain it long enough nor handle the Thunder when they go into 5th gear. The Spurs can.
Jairo Martinez: I'm of the thinking defense and veteran leadership wins you championships, yet OKC somehow defies this logic with tons of scoring, speed and athleticism. Either way this years title is going to the West....
Symbol Lai: Spurs. I don't think the Thunder are quite there yet. They tend to settle on jump shots and can be careless on defense. I also think that sometimes they lack urgency, which, in a sense, allows teams with clear holes in their strategy a means to cover up their deficiencies. I think they could have swept the Lakers to be honest but those games often came down to the wire. The Spurs, on the other hand, run like a well-oiled machine.
Andrew Snyder: I'm going to buck the trend and say... Thunder. Why? Sure the Spurs are wonderfully efficient, play beautiful basketball, blah blah blah, but who's going to match up on Durant and Westbrook? Tony Parker isn't strong enough to stop Westbrook going to the basket, and Durant will just shoot over Leonard and Ginobili. And Kendrick Perkins will sneer at Duncan 17.5 times per game. You heard it here first, Thunder in 6.
True or False: the Western Conference finals is the NBA finals.
Long Bui: Doubtful. Lebron's pretty good.
John Reyes-Nguyen: True. The winner of Spurs vs. Thunder will be the champs. I don't see anyone in the East beating any of those teams.
Joe Bernardo: False. I'm not counting out the Heat or the Celtics just yet. Plus, you never know who the evil "shortened-season injury bug" will hit next.
Jairo Martinez: True. Heat are one incident away from blowing up. Boston is an injury and complacency away from their window being slammed shut forever. This WCF is going to be a slobber knocker!
Symbol Lai: True. Miami is probably the best competitor coming from the East and they aren't consistent. When Lebron and Wade aren't performing at superhuman levels, the Heat kind of suffer from an identity crisis. A two-person super team, in which one member is already suffering from knee injuries that necessitate fluid drainings, is not a shoo-in for a championship, especially if they have to play the Spurs.
Andrew Snyder: Nope. Because the Celtics aren't in it. Next question.
Fill in the blank: there's lots of blame to go around, but the Lakers collapse can be primarily attributed to _______.
Long Bui: I don't know—that was a weird series to watch. Especially the Metta post game interviews. Mike Brown? I mean, the Lakers pair two of the premier big men in the league, Pau and Bynum, and they didn't do work this series, and Mike just let it happen. Also, anyone care to figure out Kobe's points per shot for the series? Owing to free throws I bet it was pretty good but without watching game five, he didn't pass the eye test—I'm calling it now, next year, in the words of the Worldwide Leader, we see the first chinks.
John Reyes-Nguyen: I would blame the Lakers collapse on the fact we aren't a good team. I want to blame Kobe, Mike Brown, Bynum, Gasol, and the bench, so that's basically blaming the entire team. I can't pinpoint one particular person, everyone is to blame and everyone has excuses. Kobe takes bad shots and doesn't pass, but it's because no one else is contributing. Mike Brown has a terrible rotation and can't effectively utilize two skilled 7 footers, but he didn't have a training camp teach his system. Bynum and Gasol underachieved, but it's because Bynum never got the ball in the 2nd half and Gasol has no room to operate in the post. The bench has no excuse, they sucked all year. Lakers need to make major changes. The twin tower approach is no longer working.
Joe Bernardo: David Fuckin' Stern. The Lakers knew they couldn't compete anymore and had to blow up the team. They were on track to do so up until the NBA Nazi proclaimed, "No CP3 trade for you!" Instead, they pushed through a compact season with basically a 4-man, non-athletic squad, tried to fill the holes in their roster with limited trade flexibility, and faced two of the most athletic teams in the league in the playoffs. Yes, you can blame Kobe's dedication for selfish hero-ball, Pau Gasol's lack of aggressiveness, Bynum's 12-year old maturity level, or Doo Doo Brown's inept coaching, but I'm taking it further. In addition to the the CP3 trade veto, there's the CBA agreement, the back-to-back playoff game schedule, and the Anaheim Kings possibility. Dan Gilbert, Michael Jordan, and all of the other whiny small market owners are doing everything to stop the Lake Show. I know I won't get any sympathy from anyone, especially to all of the Laker-hating Diss writers, but yes, I'm playing the conspiracy card! (Actually...now that I think about it, I'm blaming Kobe. LOL!)
Jairo Martinez: Chemistry. This shortened season with a new coach, a few disgruntled players in a botched trade and a horrible salary cap spelled DISASTER.
Symbol Lai: I'd have to say Kobe and then management. To reiterate what everyone else already knows, the Lakers have two bigs that they could have used more consistently. Part of their use was contingent on whether Kobe would accept another role on the team and maybe take a back seat to Mike Brown, not only because he's the primary ball-handler but also because he sets the precedent for how other players react to this new system. Kobe never fully bought into this system. As the season progressed, you saw Mike Brown becoming less critical of his players and increasingly more accommodating to this less efficient approach. Of course Brown could have done something, but it's also his job on the line. For this reason, second to blame is probably management because they could have stepped in to back Mike Brown up.
Andrew Snyder: As the Diss's #NumberOne Laker Hater, I greatly enjoyed watching this series. As a Kobe hater, I loved watching his terrible body language after every close loss. However, this one wasn't his fault. Sure he shot 9-25 in games two and three, but as the Lakers have proved - they can still win when he shoots 6-24 #facepalm.
The real question: where was Andrew Bynum in this series? Where was the triple-double-with-blocks Bynum giving two shits on defense? Seriously dude, Kendrick Perkins isn't as good anymore now that KG isn't screaming profanity, jibberish, and defensive manna from heaven into his ears on the court. Get your act together or you'll never be valuable enough to trade for Dwight Howard.