The defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers struggled to finish the regular season, but they have come on strong in the playoffs after being tested in the first round by the up-and-coming Oklahoma City Thunder and showing their dominance in the second round by sweeping the Utah Jazz.
One of the main reasons for the Lakers troubles late in the regular season was their ability to stay healthy as they basically limped their way into the playoffs. With injuries to Kobe Bryant, Andrew Bynum and Sasha Vujacic, the defending champs were still favored to go all the way to the NBA Finals, but their chances of repeating as NBA champions seemed to take a severe blow.
Obviously, the Lakers main concern was the health Kobe Bryant. Without their best all around player being healthy throughout the postseason it would almost certainly end the Lakers hopes of repeating as NBA champs. Fortunately, despite struggling in the first round against Kevin Durant and company, Kobe Bryant was able to get back to form late in the first round series and then dominate in the second round against the Utah Jazz.
There’s no doubt about it that Kobe Bryant is still suffering from ailing injuries to his finger, knee and ankle, but he’s still playing at an extremely high level and looks like he could almost certainly lead the Lakers to a second straight NBA title.
Another major concern for the Los Angeles Lakers in the playoffs has been the health of Andrew Bynum as he has suffered yet another knee injury which has been bothering him throughout the postseason. Fortunately, the injury wasn’t serious enough to keep him out the playoffs like it has in the past, but he has been able to avoid surgery and still produce for the Lakers in the paint alongside Pau Gasol.
It still remains to be seen whether or not Andrew Bynum’s knee will hold up throughout the Western Conference finals against the Phoenix Suns, but he still feels confident that he can help Lakers beat Steve Nash and company.
One key player that the Lakers have been missing off the bench during the playoffs has been sharp shooting guard Sasha Vujacic. During the last game of the regular season against the Los Angeles Clippers, Sasha went down with an ankle injury which would unfortunately keep him out the first two rounds of playoffs. Even though ankle injuries can be serious enough to keep a play on the sidelines for quite some time, Sasha’s ankle seems to be getting better and he just might be ready to come off the bench for the Lakers against the Phoenix Suns in the West finals.
With Sasha coming off the bench, Kobe Bryant and Shannon Brown will get some much needed rest which can only help the team as long as Sasha can find his shooting stroke once again.
A couple years ago, Sasha was pivotal in the Lakers charge to the NBA Finals as he was on fire at times with his three point shot. Over the past two seasons Sasha has struggled to get back to that form or live up to his nickname “The Machine”, but having him back for the Phoenix Suns series could be big the Lakers.