Coming into these NBA playoffs the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers were bruised and beaten as they had to limp into the postseason. Despite their multiple injuries the Lakers have had to deal with throughout the regular season, Kobe Bryant and company had high hopes of being able to contend for another title, but they would have to get through a motivated up and coming Oklahoma City Thunder team.
There is no team in the NBA over the past three years that have played more games than the Los Angeles Lakers. With two straight seasons of going to the NBA finals and now once again becoming the number one overall seed in the Western Conference, Phil Jackson’s Lakers have barely had enough time to recover from playing in two straight seasons with 100+ plus games under their belt in each season.
That is a hell a lot of basketball to play in the short time period and not only have the Lakers as a team played this many games, but Kobe Bryant also represented his country in the Summer Olympics in Beijing a couple of summers ago. That means even more wear and tear on arguably one of the best players ever to play this game.
There is no doubting that Kobe Bryant is one of the toughest players the NBA has ever seen with his ability to play through injuries, but at some point his body is going to break down and he will no longer feel to play at a high level he can consistently. I believe that time is now as Kobe has been battling injuries all over his body throughout the entire season and it appears that he just cannot recover fast enough in order to compete in these playoffs.
In game two of this first round series with the Oklahoma City Thunder, Kobe proved that he could still light up the scoreboard and lead the team to victory by scoring a game-high 39 points. Even though the Lakers got the win, it took a lot out of him as he was not the same player in both games three and four which ultimately resulted in two losses.
The series will now shift back to Los Angeles once again for game five, but the mood will be entirely different as it is now officially desperation mode for the defending NBA champions against the up and coming Oklahoma City Thunder.
There was a lot of questions on whether or not Kevin Durant and company could compete with the defending champs in a seven-game series, but those questions seem to have been answered as it is obvious that they can contend with what was thought to be arguably the best team in the league at one point in time this season.
With the series all tied up at 2-2, anything can happen from here on out and the possibility of the Thunder advancing to the second round is very real.
The one key to this series moving forward is the health of Kobe Bryant. It seems as though the Lakers cannot play at a high level for an extended period of time without their best all around player playing at a high level. If Kobe can come out in game five playing the way that only Kobe can, the Lakers will be in a good position to take the lead back in this series, but if the Black Mamba struggles and is noticeably in pain, this series might be over much sooner than anticipated.