Just ask the Celtics, who went from 3-1 preseason favorites last summer to watching the NBA Finals on TV this past spring.
Will the Lakers follow a similar path?
Now that they are essentially the same team that won everything last season – except Trevor Ariza has been replaced by a bigger, stronger and better Trevor Ariza named Ron Artest — the purple and gold will be a formidable opponent for any team.
That doesn’t mean they are unbeatable or guaranteed another Larry O’Brien trophy. However, they shouldn't be taken lightly.
But as the C’s learned during their repeat quest, it doesn’t take much to derail championship dreams.
Here are a few reasons to think twice before betting the farm on the Lakers:
1. Injuries. The kryptonite of every champion. All it takes is one key player or two to hit the shelf to go from sure thing to big question mark.
2. Point guard play. Derek Fisher is a Laker legend, but he’s not getting any younger. Is Jordan Farmar ready to pick up the slack with Shannon Brown?
3. Too many Ding Dongs and Gummy Bears. It’s no secret Lamar Odom has a sweet tooth. But if he hits the candy aisle more than the weight room, Jerry Buss might wish he let the $33 Million Man go to Miami.
4. Kobe being a ballhog. The superstar showed he can be a leader without taking every shot. Reverting back to his old look-at-me ways would hurt more than chemistry.
5. Going Hollywood. Ron Artest isn’t the first wild card Phil Jackson has coached. As long as Artest remembers basketball is his day job — and just records tributes to Michael Jackson, instead of looking to be the next Master P — the Zen Master won’t be reminiscing about the quiet times with Dennis Rodman.
6. One-hit wonder. Pau Gasol proved he can bang in the paint. Now he has to prove it wasn’t a fluke.
7. The Kid can’t play. Andrew Bynum has shown flashes of brilliance amidst dashes of frustrating immaturity. He probably won’t be the next Kareem — no matter how much the Big Fella tutors him — but the Lakers should be concerned if the names of Mike Smrek or Chuck Nevitt are ever mentioned in the same sentence with Bynum.
8. Run for 11. Phil Jackson took some heat for wearing a yellow hat with a big X (the Roman numeral for 10) after winning ring No. 10. He couldn't care less what others think, unless they are his doctors.
9. Jonah Hill. The Superbad star is great for laughs, but he might want to rethink getting floor seats at the Staples Center — to avoid the wrath of Phil Jackson and distracting the coach during crunch time.
10. Losing that edge. The worst thing a team can do after winning a title is forget about doing all the little things — in the offseason, preseason and regular season — that helped it achieve glory in the postseason. Nothing speeds up a fall from the mountaintop like getting drunk on success.
Of course, it’s only August, and Las Vegas bookmakers are looking to generate as much action as they can on both sides of the line, so take the odds with a grain of salt.
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