Staff Writer: Ryan Ward
The last three seasons in the Western Conference have been dominated by the Los Angeles Lakers as they have made it all the way to the NBA Finals in two consecutive seasons and look like they could very well do it again this year.
Despite being the favorites to reach the NBA finals for the third straight season, it would be hard to argue that the Los Angeles Lakers haven’t struggled up until this point in the season. Even though Kobe Bryant and company have had their problems at times, when this team plays at a high level, there is no team better in the league as they just know how to get it done at the right time.
In the first round of playoffs, the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers got all they could handle from a very young and inexperienced Oklahoma City Thunder squad. With Kevin Durant and company winning two games in their series with the Lakers, a lot of people started questioning whether or not the Lakers were worn out and had what it took to get back to the NBA finals once again.
Obviously getting beat twice in a playoff series against an unproven young team like the Thunder is something that is definitely going to send shockwaves throughout the league, it might’ve been exactly what the defending champs needed to get back that championship swagger they so desperately were trying to find.
Heading into the second round of the playoffs against the Utah Jazz, the Los Angeles Lakers faced another battle with an extremely talented point guard in Deron Williams. Even though some people say Steve Nash, Chris Paul or even Rajon Rondo might be the best point guard in the league today, it would be really hard to argue that Williams isn’t the best at his position as he just seems to get better with every passing game.
Williams was without a doubt the one thing on the Lakers’ minds coming into this series, after struggling against Russell Westbrook, but despite still having problems guarding him throughout the first three games, Kobe Bryant and company come out on top and now lead the series 3-0.
As it is against most teams in the league, the Lakers are just too long and dominant inside the paint for the Utah Jazz to compete with. The Jazz consistently get out rebounded and outmatched in virtually every aspect of the game even with players like Deron Williams, Carlos Boozer and Paul Milsap.
Not only can the Jazz not contend the Lakers length, but Kobe Bryant has also come back to form and lit them up in all three games of the series. By scoring 30 or more points in each game, Kobe has especially his dominance once again. It took some time, but the Black Bamba is officially back and ready to contend for another title as the time off between games has really started help him heal up and get ready to play.
In game four, the Utah Jazz will be giving it all they have as they face elimination, but even if they do come out with a win, which I don’t think they will, the Lakers are inevitably going to advance to their third straight Western Conference finals.