There is no denying that the Los Angeles Lakers will have their fair share of obstacles to overcome once they get into the playoffs, which is to assume that they actually accomplish that task. Nonetheless, I believe that the Lakers may be able to make an impact depending on a couple of critical variables.
The major factor is undeniably who their first round match-up may be. Obviously the San Antonio Spurs and the Oklahoma City Thunder are far superior teams to the Lakers, but this isn’t to say that the Lakers will automatically lose to either team. Personally, I believe the Lakers have a better chance at defeating the Spurs, as opposed to the Thunder who would run all over the Lakers.
Both the Spurs and the Lakers rely primarily on a half court offensive set, which allows the Lakers to run a defense scheme that better suits their pace. A slower offensive opponent benefits the Lakers because players will be able to make their rotations in time, and less players will be getting beat off the dribble (with the exception of whoever has the task of guarding Tony Parker).
In addition to this facet of the Spurs game, the Lakers should match up well in the frontcourt. The Spurs generally start Tiago Splitter at center, and play Tim Duncan at the power forward position. Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol have the capacity to lead the Lakers to victory, but that capacity is wholly reliant on how well they can out rebound their opponents.
Splitter and Duncan are fairly talented rebounders, but Howard and Gasol are equally as talented in that department, and they are physically larger players. If Howard and Gasol can manage to pull down a lot of boards consistently it will collapse the Spurs’ defense, which will enable the rest of the Lakers’ squad to get some open shots.
I’m not trying to say that the Lakers will absolutely defeat the Spurs in the first round, I’m just saying don’t count them out just yet.