With the media storm brewing, it seems Phil Jackson is trying to put pressure on Oklahoma City. What he should be doing instead is checking with his medical staff for better news. Los Angeles may have needed to take a page out of LeBron's book and rested up for what is sure to be a hard fought repeat attempt.
Instead the Lakers prepare for the Thunder at less than 100 percent, and that is how we begin our look at the First Round keys for LA. Kobe Bryant belongs in his own category, so we'll mention him briefly but mainly focus on three of his teammates.
On the bright side, a big key to the inside game for the defending NBA Champions keeps making progress in the right direction. I watched ESPN2 this morning with the consensus being that Andrew Bynum would be ready for Game 1 but most likely not starting. This provides a big boost for the Lakers, who need a strong presence in the middle to slow down Kevin Durant and crew.
Just how much of the game plan will go through the 7-footer remains to be seen, but that will all depend on how much rust Bynum shows in the next couple of days. He missed the last 13 contests due to a left Achilles strain, and the Thunder will look to test him early.
If it seems like the Lakers have more problems on the inside, my gut reaction is just the opposite. Jordan Farmar and Sasha Vujacic help take the pressure off Kobe by spreading the defense but are both hobbling. Farmar should resume a bench role against OKC, but the real news concerns Vujacic.
The sharpshooter now looks to have suffered a similar injury to that which sidelined Chris Paul and that means trouble for the ones wearing purple. LA may not have Vujacic for possibly the majority of April and maybe into May.
Even the best teams need their specialists this time of the year, so my question is where do the Lakers look now? That question and more will be debated throughout the day while I encourage you to check out Silver Screen and Roll for more Playoff Preview action.
Enjoy your Friday Thunder fans, this weekend will be a first for all of us!