The first round match-up between the Los Angeles Lakers and the New Orleans Hornets is knotted at 2-2 as of this writing and many people are surprised. Except for me.
I predicted that the Lakers will need six games to eliminate the pesky hornets. Why? Because the Lakers have struggled in the first round of the playoffs in the last five years. Their record of 16-11 in the first round of the NBA playoffs since 2006 says something about the team's slow start in the post-season.
Another thing we're seeing right now is the Lakers' inability to contain top flight point guards.One only needs to look at how Tony Parker, Mike Bibby, Steve Nash, and Chris Paul run around the Lakers' defense. Paul has been superb in this first round, reminding point guards everywhere that playing the Lakers will make you look Hall of Fame-worthy.
One thing I've been surprised with is the Lakers' vulnerability with injuries four games into the playoffs. Andrew Bynum had his customary injury scare, but Kobe Bryant has been bothered by a bum ankle. If the Lakers are to win it all this year, they have to overcome health issues, apart from the strong opponents.
Finally, NBA Sixth Man of the Year Lamar Odom has shone flashes, but he hasn't been as effective against the smallish Hornets frontline. The same can be said against Pau Gasol. In the last four games, the two Lakers forwards have been very disappointing across the board, considering that they are capable of doing much more damage.
Game 5 will be a couple of hours from now and we shall see if the Lakers will bounce back.
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