Compare and contrast where they're at: The Lakers and the Cavs
I'm not picking on the Lakers, I like them, they're obviously loaded... but they're making me look ridiculous at the moment, and I can't be made to look ridiculous.
At the beginning of the year, I thought they had learned from last season's playoffs that Showtime Lakerball, meaning, high octane offense and just average defense, won't get it done. They were playing lockdown defense to begin the season. Ten games in I said "Shut her down" its the Lakers year. Then they went back to Laker ball.
Now it looks like the Cavs year (or the Celts... the Celts HAVE the D... its just that the Cavs have the D and the O).
The last two nights provide a nice case study. The Cavs and the Lakers go on the road against similarly situated tough teams in the opposite conference across the country. Lets see how they responded.
The Cavaliers faced the very tough Denver Nuggets at their very difficult home court site. What the Cavaliers did... and I watched it... was frightening. They basically cut Denver's chest open, ripped their heart out while it was beating, and ate it... the defeat was that complete.
More importantly, Cleveland's defense ruled. Their Defensive Win Score was a playoff ready 18.9... this is against a Denver team whose Home Offensive Win Score is near 50.0. IMPRESSIVE.
Now the Lakers. They go on the road against an equally tough Orlando. They play them hard but they lose. Why did they lose? Defense.
Their defense wasn't horrible, but it wasn't championship level. Their Defensive Win Score was 44.9. That's slightly below average. Again, not horrible, and they'll win a TON of games with that and their WAY above average Offensive Win Score, but they won't win a golden ball with Defensive Win Score teams like Cleveland and Boston out there. It just won't happen.
See, what happens in the playoffs, and I charted this last season, and I went back over a few other NBA Finals and found the same phenomenon. Team Win Scores collapse.
You would logically think, "Hey thse are the best teams, the Win Scores are going to go up". Its not the case.
The Win Score average for a season is usually in the 40s... NBA Finals games are normally played in the 30s... sometimes in the 20s. You know what I think the reason is? No easy baskets. There are no layups allowed... and most of the game is played in the half court setting. But that's just a hunch.
Anyway, my message to LakerNation is this: tell Philipo he needs to grow back that beard and get the Lakers playing defense again. They've obviously shown they are capable of doing so... they need to begin to make it a habit if they are going to make a championship run.