“Blazers are the best eighth seed that the NBA has ever seen – they are the 4-5 seed masquerading as an eight seed.” One gentleman’s sweep later, they’re on their way back to Oregon.
“But the Lakers don’t match up well with the Rockets. They don’t have the personnel to guard Harden and Russ.” Houston – we have a chemistry/fit/Westbrook/one piece away problem. Another gentleman’s sweep triggering a potential organizational shakeup.
That’s the Lakers‘ postseason run in a nutshell – a series of media-driven narratives rebutted by the guys wearing purple and gold. And somewhere along the way, how they’re performing in the bubble became a side issue. It’s all about the discrepancy of perception towards teams they’re facing.
“He gets Portland in Round 1, and they’re like running on fumes, then Lillard gets hurt, that’s perfect. Gets this garbage Houston team in Round 2 that just completely runs through the hills the first time of strife, and they’re down 29, and Westbrook’s talking sh*t saying don’t double me. It’s like, you guys are just a lost cost, like the looser island. And now the Lakers might get Denver; that’s like the perfect team for them to play.”Bill Simmons, The Ringer
If this is the case, is the Lakers’ playoff run belittled by those standing on their way? And by Lakers, I mean LeBron James. Will his initial postseason campaign in the West be brutal enough for LBJ’s Eastern Conference runs to receive their ultimate validation?
It’s all about who’s writing the script. Guys like Bill Simmons have already hopped on a “LeBron must be happy about his potential cakewalk” train, and facing the media declared lesser Denver Nuggets in the WCF would only solidify such an argument. No credit will be given to LeBron nor the Lakers. It was just a luck of the “draw” at this point.
The alternative is sticking to original narratives and actually giving LeBron and the Lakers credit for coming out on top in both of their playoff series so far. Recognizing that LA’s first-round series win over Portland was more about LeBron and AD having an incredible five-game stretch than it was about the Blazers “running on fumes.” Acknowledging that them blowing out the Rockets was more about the Lakers making adjustments and playing through their strengths, then it was about Russ and Harden having horrific runs that had nothing to do with how they were guarded. It was more about the Lakers being good than everyone else being bad.
And once again, by Lakers, I mean LeBron James. Hats off to Anthony Davis, Rajon Rondo, and all the purple and gold guys stepping up, but the guy playing in his 17th season is the one orchestrating the Lakers’ success. Averaging 26.6 points, 10.3 rebounds, and 8.8 assists on .553/.371./.724 shooting splits is seriously impressive.
Now to be fair, it hasn’t been all about LeBron performance-wise, but it’ll sure be all about him legacy-wise. And while this hasn’t been your typical, going through multiple juggernaut teams Western Conference playoff experience, lifting the Larry O’Brien should validate James as both conference assassin.
That’s why facing the Clippers and beating them on the way to the Finals would be a much better scenario for LBJ’s legacy then going up against Denver. No narrative would’ve been able to diminish beating the two-headed monster that are their down the hall neighbors.