When Kobe Bryant went down with a torn Achilles tendon late last week, a lot of the work that he and the Los Angeles Lakers had put towards recovering their status as a playoff contender went out the window.
Sure, the Lakers still have an abundance of talent from Steve Nash to Dwight Howard to Pau Gasol and many others, but it’s their leader and that veteran presence that they will be missing the most. The Lakers are entering the playoffs red hot, having won five consecutive games and eight of their last nine overall, but without Kobe it’s going to be very difficult to make a run. Los Angeles has the talent, but the San Antonio Spurs have proven too tough in the past. It’s the Spurs’ veteran leadership and presence that make them one of the more dangerous threats to win the NBA Championship here in 2013 and it starts of course with Tim Duncan inside and Tony Parker on the perimeter.
Had Bryant been able to play in this series, things would have been totally different, but it’s just that lack of that star power and leadership from your team’s top overall player that hurts. Take LeBron James away from the Miami Heat and what you have is a talented team that could still be considered a playoff contender, but how many people would lose faith in their overall ability? It’s that type of impact that the Lakers will not have here in the 2013 NBA Playoffs.
The Lakers will have to hope to steal a game in San Antonio to have a chance and that won’t be easy against a Spurs team that boasts the NBA’s third best home record at 35-6.
Game 1 tip-off is scheduled for 3:30pm (EST) on Sunday afternoon.
Follow Paul Seaver on Twitter: @PaulSeaverRS