I’m not sure if I want the Lakers to make the playoffs this year. I think they have a better chance of competing against either San Antonio or Oklahoma City (better chance against the Spurs) than the Jazz do. But then again watching them miss the playoffs after being anointed the second best team in the league (after Miami of course) would be oh so sweet. Which is a cruel thing to say, but I can’t feel bad for a team that always seems to get what they want through free agency or via trades (like that lopsided deal for Pau Gasol).
Putting my hatred of the Lakers aside and looking at the race for the 8th seed purely at a basketball fan’s perspective, the Lakers NEED to grab that last spot. I don’t see Utah giving the Thunder or the Spurs any trouble in the first round. Sure, the Jazz have an amazing home record (they’ve beaten both the Thunder and Spurs in their respective visits to Salt Lake City) but I don’t see that as being enough since their great home record didn’t them in last year’s match up in the first round against the Spurs where they were swept.
The Lakers on the other hand match up very well against the Spurs, not so much against the Thunder though. I don’t see the Lakers upsetting either team, but I believe they would take the Spurs to at least 6 games. With their big combination of Howard and Gasol down low and Kobe and Nash on the outside, I could see them giving the Spurs fits.
I will either get to see the NBA’s version of the Evil Empire fall or I get to see a rare exciting match up of 1 seed vs an 8 seed. I’ll be happy with either result, even though my heart is slightly rooting for the former.