Can the Los Angeles Lakers pull off the three-peat?

Over the last few years Los Angeles Lakers have been without a doubt the best team in the NBA. No matter who doubts this team year in and year out or what kind of struggles they may face throughout the NBA regular season, Kobe Bryant and company just seem to elevate their game at the right time every single year and make a charge in the playoffs in order to contend for yet another NBA title.

This season Phil Jackson and his squad came into the year with a target on their back once again as they had won two consecutive NBA titles and were favored to have a legitimate shot at winning their third in a row. This is obviously nothing new for Phil Jackson as he has won two three-peats with the Chicago Bulls back in the Michael Jordan era and one three-peat with the Los Angeles Lakers in the Shaq/Kobe era in th

Photo of Los Angeles Lakers Andrew Bynum.
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e City of Angels.

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With that being said, there is no head coach in the league today that is more prepared or experience when competing for an NBA title and a three-peat for that matter. There is no question that there has been plenty of bumps in the road this season as the Lakers have had their fair share of struggles. Not only have they been banged up with injuries as they normally are throughout the regular season as Andrew Bynum missed considerable time and the beginning of the year once again, but they’ve also hit some serious slumps during the year and at one point or thought to not have what it takes to compete for an NBA title.

Fortunately, as they seem to do every single season, the Lakers have hit that proverbial switch in which they just turned it onto another level entirely with the kind of championship swagger that had over the last couple years on the way to beating the Orlando Magic and the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals.

With three straight appearances in the NBA finals, the Los Angeles Lakers are no strangers to playoff time and knowing how to compete in order to beat the best of the best consistently. This year they might have their work cut out for them once again in the playoffs as they will have to almost certainly contend with the likes of one or more of the best teams in the Western Conference.

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Even though last season was no cakewalk for the Lakers as they do have to face a very good Oklahoma City Thunder squad and the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference Finals, this time around it will be even tougher in perhaps their toughest challenge of the last three

Phil Jackson (center), coach, Los Angeles Lakers
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years.

With the San Antonio Spurs playing out of their minds this season and teams like the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Dallas Ma

vericks playing at an extremely high level, the two-time defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers will have their work cut out for them from start to finish the minute the playoffs begin.

Personally, I still believe that no team in the Western Conference can beat the Los Angeles Lakers in a seven-game series, but they will be truly tested this time around as they can’t afford any injuries and must play their best basketball every single game from here on out.

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Can the Grizzlies upset the Spurs in the playoffs?

The NBA regular season is hitting the final stretch as they are coming to the end of March in starting one of the key months of the season in April. Usually around this time, the playoff seeding in both conferences are pretty much set as most of us get a good idea of what teams will be facing off in the first round.

As right now, the Eastern Conference has the best idea of what seems playoff bound as there are four teams within the conference that aborted plans playoff spots. With the Chicago Bulls, Boston Celtics, Miami Heat and the Orlando Magic clinched in their spots already, but only four spots left in the East and things could get interesting has teams will be battling it out for a chance to play the elite in this conference.

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The Western Conference on the other hand is looking much different right now has only one team in the conference has been held to clinch a playoff spot. With the San Antonio Spurs continuing their remarkable season with just 13 losses so far in over 70 games, Tim Duncan and company have been the first team in the West to post their tickets the playoffs.

Even though the seeding in the Western Conference can go up and down from here on out, the consensus at this point in time is the Spurs will walk up the number one seed and face off against the eighth seed in the West when it is all said and done.

As it always is, the eighth seed in both conferences usually tend to stay open until the final week of the NBA regular season. In the West there seems to be a tight race between the Memphis Grizzlies (37-31), Utah Jazz (36-33), Houston Rockets (35-34) and maybe even the Phoenix Suns (33-33).

Obviously, but the records shown above, the Memphis Grizzlies look to have the best chance of locking up that eighth spot and facing the San Antonio Spurs in the first round playoffs. This could be good news and it could be bad news for the Grizzlies as they have played exceptionally well recently, but will definitely have their work cut out for them against a very good Spurs squad.

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In my opinion, even though they probably won’t be thought to do much damage chance arguably the best team in league, the Grizzlies have a chance to pull off the upset as a matter pretty well with the Spurs.

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It is a bit of a stretch at this point in time to say that the Memphis Grizzlies could give the San Antonio Spurs a run for their money in the first round playoffs, but I wouldn’t count them out as it seems prudent to be extremely resilient when pushed up against a wall.

This matchup could easily change come playoff time, but with the way both teams are playing right now, I would anticipate this being the first round matchup between the first and eighth seed in the Western Conference.

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NBA Matchup: San Antonio Spurs at Dallas Mavericks

San Antonio Spurs at Dallas Mavericks Fri. March 18, 2011 8:30 p.m. EST

The NBA regular season is really starting to wind down now as most teams around the league have no more than 15 games last before they are either headed home or into the playoffs. Two teams in the Western Conference that could be serious force to be reckoned with come playoff time are the San Antonio Spurs (54-13) and the Dallas Mavericks (48-20).

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Even though the San Antonio Spurs seem to have a tight grip on the number one seed in the Western Conference right now the Dallas Mavericks have just fallen out of the second spot in the West after the two-time defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers just went on a tear recently, these two teams will probably be looking to kill each other when they go head to head this Friday night in Dallas, Texas.

There will be basically nothing on the line for either one of these teams coming into this matchup, but with the potential of these two teams possibly meeting in the playoffs they will want to feel each other out and get a sense of what the matchups should be if they are to meet in the Western Conference playoffs.

There is a slight chance that the Dallas Mavericks could get back into the second spot in the Western Conference if they can get back to their winning ways over the next few weeks. The Los Angeles Lakers may be arguably the hottest team in the league right now as they have gotten it championship swagger back after struggling a bit at about the midway point of the NBA regular season, but since the two teams have identical records right now and will play each other one more time before the playoffs, positioning in the West isn’t exactly set in stone right now.

With that being said, and the fact that this game will be played on their home floor in Dallas, the Mavericks could come out with some playoff intensity in this game as they never like losing at home or losing to the rival San Antonio Spurs.

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As for the San Antonio Spurs, they will be looking to get back on track as they have struggled as of late after losing two big games to Los Angeles Lakers and the Miami Heat on their home floor in San Antonio. These two losses to NBA title contenders will have almost certainly been wakeup calls for head coach Gregg Popovich. With that being said, the Spurs might also come out with a playoff intensity in this game which could make things very interesting moving forward as this might be an all-out battle from start to finish.

As of right now, I believe the San Antonio Spurs are the better all around team, but with their playoff seeding basically being fairly solid at this point they might not take the game as seriously as the Dallas Mavericks. If the Spurs start to lose early on, I would anticipate Popovich letting his foot off the accelerator and letting his reserves get some time while resting his starters.

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Is Kevin Love the best power forward in the NBA today?

Coming into this NBA regular season, all anyone was paying attention to was the recent big-name free agents signed around the league like LeBron James (Miami Heat), Amare Stoudemire (New York Knicks) and Carlos Boozer (Chicago Bulls), but the real story this year has been the emergence of some of the most talented young players in the league like Blake Griffin (Los Angeles Clippers), Derrick Rose (Chicago Bulls) and Kevin Love (Minnesota Timberwolves).

Over the past few years, the Clippers, Bulls and Timberwolves have been perennial bottom feeders in the NBA with little or no hope for the future. Fortunately, all three of these struggling NBA franchises were able to get their hands on some promising young players that had the potential to turn the teams around.

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Even though the Chicago Bulls are the only team of the three that will make the playoffs at season’s end, the Los Angeles Clippers and the Minnesota Timberwolves might not be that far off from being playoff bound in the next few years. There is no doubt that Blake Griffin is the frontrunner for the Rookie of the Year award this season and has stolen some of the spotlight away from the two-time defending NBA champion Lakers in Los Angeles, but it has been the Timberwolves All-Star forward Kevin Love that has really started to make headlines as of late.

With forwards like Tim Duncan, Moses Malone and Charles Barkley before him, Kevin Love has had his work cut out for him in terms of being compared with the best of the best at the power forward position in the NBA. Last season Love was a solid contributor for the T’Wolves and thought to be the next big thing in Minnesota, but no one knew just how good this kid from UCLA would turn out to be.

This season Kevin Love has put up some monster numbers and made history with unbelievable performances. With 20.9 points, 15.8 rebounds (league leader) and shooting 47% from the floor, Love has been arguably the best power forward in the NBA this season and recently cemented himself in the record books by passing NBA great Moses Malone for most double-doubles in a row in a single season.

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With his 51st straight double-double (23 points, 17 rebounds) against the Dallas Mavericks on Mon. March 7, 2011, Kevi

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n Love passed Moses Malone and has made a case as one of the best players in this league. The Minnesota Timberwolves may still be a few years away from being playoff bound in the Western Conference, that is if Kevin Love sticks around or takes the high road like Kevin Garnett did, but Love has definitely made an impression and is quickly becoming a rising star in the NBA.

In my opinion, there is no other forward in the league that comes close to Kevin Love right now in terms of putting up the numbers every single night, but whether or not he is willing to stick around if this franchise can’t surround him with talented players remains to be seen.

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Clippers trade Baron Davis to the Cavs for Mo Williams and Jamario Moon

The NBA trade deadline has officially come and gone with plenty of teams getting involved in the action to upgrade their squads for the second half of the NBA regular season. The first domino to fall on the day of the deadline was the Los Angeles Clippers point guard Baron Davis.

A couple of years ago, the Clippers made a free agent deal with Baron Davis in what was thought to be the beginning of a new era of basketball for arguably the worst team in the league. Despite Davis being a great addition to the team at the time, the Clippers never really got going with BD running the point until this season with the addition of rookie phenom Blake Griffin and a vastly improved Eric Gordon.

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The future of the Los Angeles Clippers appears to be bright with Griffin and Gordon leading the way, but Baron Davis was apparently not in their long term plans as they decided to trade the former All-Star point guard to the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers.

Reportedly, the trade will send Baron Davis and a 2011 first-round draft pick to the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for point guard Mo Williams and small forward Jamario Moon. This was obviously an attempt to unload Baron Davis’ contract which is set to pay him $13 million for the rest of this season and $28 over the next two years. Even though Davis has improved his play a bit playing alongside Griffin, the Clippers felt they had to make a move and make it now.

Mo Williams is a solid point guard and will be a great addition to the backcourt for the Clippers, but he is a shoot-first guard and might not be what this team needs moving forward. Ironically enough, the one player in this deal which could turn out to be the most beneficial for the Clippers is forward Jamario Moon.

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It will be interesting to see what the Los Angeles Clippers do from here on out as they would love to bring in a big-name free agent this summer or the next to surround Eric Gordon and Blake Griffin with the kind of talent they need to get to the next level. They will most likely be going after Chris Paul, Dwight Howard or Deron Williams when or if they become free agents, but in the meantime their goal will be to be playoff bound next season.

As of right now, the Clippers seem to be a much better squad than people anticipated as Blake Griffin has quickly turned into a superstar and arguably one of the best forwards in the league. Even though the Clippers are on the up and up, they will most likely miss the playoffs once again with 21-37 record and little to no hope of clinching the eighth spot in the Western Conference.

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Will the Lakers make a trade before the Thursday deadline?

There was no doubt in many people’s minds coming into this NBA regular season that the two-time defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers would be a serious force to be reckoned with once again as they have the same team relatively intact and were more ready to send off Hall of Fame head coach Phil Jackson with a record 12th NBA title.

Even though was the consensus around the league that the Miami Heat would be the team to beat in the NBA this season after acquiring both LeBron James and Chris Bosh while re-signing superstar Dwyane Wade, the Los Angeles Lakers came out firing on all cylinders in the first month of the NBA regular season and looked near unstoppable at times.

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Not only was Kobe Bryant playing at a very high level once again and apparently healthy, but the team as a whole was just clicking on both ends of the floor. The one player that seemed to be surprising everyone was forward Lamar Odom. After his time with team USA in the off-season, Odom seem to have turned into a different player and much more confident and ready to help this team pull off the three-peat.

Unfortunately, as the season started to wear on the Los Angeles Lakers started to show signs of weakness, especially on the defensive side of the floor. With their recent struggles, a lot of people started to speculate about the age of this team as the average was 30 years old.

Obviously, teams like the San Antonio Spurs have been unaffected by the collective age as Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili have been able to get the job done this season and turn the team into arguably the best in the league. With that being said, I believe the Lakers problem this year is lack of motivation.

With three straight NBA Finals appearances and more games played than any other team in the NBA over the past three years, the Los Angeles Lakers are simply fatigued and finding it hard to get that motivation factor back as they know that the only time they really need to play solid team basketball is playoff time.

Even though the NBA doesn’t have 162 game schedule like the MLB, 82 games +16 or more playoff games can still take its toll on the team especially when some of the players don’t stop there and play for their national team in the off-season.

At seem like the two-time defending champs needs no excuses as no great team does, but with the recent lack of motivation and the fact that they’re losing the teams like the Charlotte Bobcats and the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers shows that maybe a trade would be the best thing for this storied franchise.

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One trade rumors that has been floating around Los Angeles has been involving Denver Nuggets superstar Carmelo Anthony. The deal would reportedly send center Andrew Bynum to the Mile High City in exchange for the All-Star forward. There would almost certainly be other players in this deal, but Bynum would be at the core.

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 07:  Lamar Odom #7 of t...
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With the New Jersey Nets looking like they have the advantage right now in the Carmelo Anthony sweepstakes, the Los Angeles Lakers might have to look elsewhere if they do intend on making a trade before the NBA trade deadline on Feb. 24.

Another deal that was supposedly in the works was the Lakers sending defensive specialist Ron Artest to the Bobcats in exchange for Stephen Jackson or Gerald Wallace. In my opinion, this deal would have been a steal for the Lakers as they would almost certainly improve their club drastically with the addition of Jackson or Wallace, but the deal fell through.

So at this point it is uncertain whether or not Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak will actually pull the trigger on a trade before the deadline, but with this recent loss to the Cavaliers heading into the All-Star break, it has become obvious that something needs to change if this team expects to three-peat.

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Kobe Bryant leads West to victory over East in 2011 All-Star game

The only elite team in the NBA that seemed to be struggling coming into the All-Star break this past weekend was the two-time defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers. With three straight losses to the Orlando Magic, Charlotte Bobcats and arguably the worst team in the league in the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Lakers obviously had problems, but fortunately this weekend they had an opportunity to put their problems behind them as they hosted the 2011 NBA All-Star game.

Coming into this All-Star game, five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant knew that this would most likely be his last time playing this game on his home floor at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Not only did the Black Mamba want to put on a show for the hometown Lakers fans, but he also came into this game with the knowledge that he could tie NBA legend Bob Pettit with his fourth NBA All-Star MVP award.

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Just like Michael Jordan did back in the day, Kobe Bryant uses anything he can as motivation and he did just that this past Sunday as he was on fire from start to finish. Along with tying Bob Pettit with a fourth MVP award in the All-Star game, Kobe also came just five points shy of tying Lakers legend Wilt Chamberlain for most points scored in an All-Star game by finishing with a game-high 37.

Even though Kobe Bryant could have easily broken Wilt’s record of 42 points, he became a distributor in the closing minutes by letting the league’s leading scorer Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder) take over. Durant finished with 32 points and proved that he is now amongst the elite in the West and might get the torch from Kobe when he decides to call it quits.

LeBron James led the way for the Eastern Conference All-Stars with just the second triple-double in All-Star game history. Michael Jordan did it back in 1997, but LeBron James was near unstoppable in the fourth quarter as he got the East back into this game while finishing with a team-high 29 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists.

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Despite LeBron’s valiant effort in the fourth, it just wasn’t enough to overcome the West as they ended up beating the East 148-143. Along with Kobe finishing with 37 points and 14 rebounds for the West, fellow Lakers teammate Pau Gasol had a pretty big impact off the bench with 17 points.

The combination of Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant was just too much for the East to handle in this one. They may have threatened to steal this game from the West in the closing minutes as LeBron just barreled his way to the basket on every single possession, but ultimately the West had the game in hand and came out on top.

LeBron was almost able to eclipse Kobe in the running for All-Star game MVP, but being that this game was in Los Angeles and Kobe had just dunked on LeBron late in the game, there was no way the Black Mamba wasn’t coming home without the hardware.

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NBA Matchup: Los Angeles Lakers @ Boston Celtics

Los Angeles Lakers at Boston Celtics Thurs. Feb. 10, 2011 8 p.m. EST

As one of the few heated NBA rivalries to stand the test of time, the two-time defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers and the defending Eastern Conference champion Boston Celtics always give each other a run for their money every time they go head-to-head during the NBA regular season.

A few weeks ago, the Lakers and the Celtics faced off for the first time since Game 7 of the2010 NBA Finals. Obviously, Kevin Garnett and company still had a bitter taste in their mouths considering how close they came to get the best of the Lakers once again on the NBA’s biggest stage and winning yet another NBA title.

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Even though these two teams were considered to be equals on the basketball court heading into this showdown at the Staples Center, that wasn’t the consensus around the league once the final buzzer sounded at the end of the fourth quarter. The Lakers may have been in control in the first half with reigning NBA Finals MVP Kobe Bryant lighting up the scoreboard for 22 points heading into halftime, but the second half was a different story altogether.

Once the second half began, Paul Pierce really started to get hot in the third quarter and finished with a team-high 32 points. Pierce’s big third quarter was the turning point in this game as the Lakers were able to keep it close, but losing control after the Celtics’ leading scorer took over.

Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett shoots ov...
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Kobe Bryant tried to rally his boys back in the fourth quarter, like he had done countless times during his Hall of Fame caliber career, but the Black Mamba’s season-high 41 points turned out to be not enough to lead the defending champs to victory over their arch rivals.

On Thursday night, the Lakers will travel to Boston and enter an extremely hostile environment at the Garden. Even though Phil Jackson’s squad struggled to compete with the Celtics late in their last meeting, the Lakers will come into this game with a must win mentality as a loss to Boston could devastate this team’s confidence against the best of the best in the league.

Over the past few days, there have been a lot of trade rumors circulating around the Lakers as players like Ron Artest and Andrew Bynum appear to be on the block. The Lakers have recently been linked to superstar Carmelo Anthony and a trade with the Denver Nuggets, but it is all speculation at this point.

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If the Lakers do lose to the Celtics for the second time this season on Thursday night, the defending champs will almost certainly a make deal to improve their team and their chances of pulling off the three-peat in Phil Jackson’s farewell season.

Personally, I believe the Lakers still have some fight in them as all they need to do is starting playing up to their potential, but this team seems prone to quitting when the chips are down. A win over the Boston Celtics could be just what they need to get right back on track!

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