7-time NBA champion Robert Horry was quoted as saying; “I don’t think the Los Angeles Lakers are going to be in the NBA Finals, despite Dwight Howard and Steve Nash. To go deep into the play-offs, you need a strong bench, not just a great starting line-up. I still believe (last year’s runner-up) Oklahoma City Thunder are the favourites in the Western Conference, and (champions) Miami Heat of course have just gotten stronger with Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis. You pick up history and you’ll see the bench that outplays its opponents usually wins.”
Not to disrespect Horry’s opinion but I think that this statement is wrong on so many levels. In the regular season, bench production is needed because of the grind of an 82 game season. But in the playoffs, the rotation typically dwindles down and coaches usually gives significant minutes to just 7 to 8 guys max. The playoffs are a totally different animal, and the starting five with the most star power and chemistry usually wins in a best of seven grind.
That’s not to say that the Lakers are a lock to make the Finals, but we can’t discount what they have as well. Their starting five is almost an All-Star team and their bench isn’t too shabby either. They have Antawn Jamison coming off the bench. They also have Steve Blake, Jordan Hill and a slew of youngsters in Devin Ebanks, Darius Morris, Andrew Goudelock and Earl Clark. They maybe a little thin on the bench, but we never know what Nash can do with the players he has on this squad. They are more than capable of a few surprises and I will not be shocked if one of the young players step up and make a noticeable impact.
All we know is that we are in for a great new season. I can’t wait for the Lakers-Thunder matchup in the playoffs and it is sure to be a war among those two juggernauts. Whoever wins that matchup and goes to the Finals will not escape the Western conference unscathed. It will truly be a test and I can’t wait to see it when it happens.