Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Who's Not Honoring Me Now? (i)

OK, let's get this bloggy started right, let's get this bloggy started quickly.

We've had a few weeks to digest all the comings and goings around the league, so it's prediction time, but that'll be another post. Time to find out Who's Not Honoring Me Now -- I'd guess that numnut Marty Burns, but no, Marc Stein is this week's designated Hater.

Laker Rankings:
(1) - Sagarin
(1) - Hollinger/ESPN
(2) - Stein/ESPN
(1) - Burns/SI
(1) - Ball Don't Lie/Yahoo
(1) - Murphy/Covers

So, the Celtics have lost at INDIANA and at home DENVER -- two teams that will struggle to make the playoffs, and the Lakers layed an egg at home to a hot-shooting and certain contender Detroit team. Somehow, that was enough for Stein to put the Lakers at #2.

Meanwhile, the Sagarin index has the Lakers with a larger point lead over the #2 spot (Cavs) than the homecourt advantage factor, meaning the Lakers should be favored in any game, home or away.

Pretty easy schedule so far, and nothing daunting coming on the schedule, so mainly the Lakers just need to stay focused, especially on defense. Here's something not-at-all surprising: The Lakers are 4-3 at home against the spread (yawn, we're up 18, let's relax, stop playing D, and let Sasha jack up some shots), and 4-1 ATS on the road. So color me worried that we'll see a setback in one of these next 3 home games (Nets, Mavericks, Raptors).

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Old Dog; New Tricks

The Lakers diagnosed their problem last year (and playing Boston tight in the finals means there wasn't that many problems) and decided it was defense. Good on them.

"The new rules in the NBA game that have been adopted in the last what four or five years - I think Shaquille [O'Neal] called then the 'Shaq rules to stop me from scoring'. Those rules have changed our game," said Jackson before the Lakers' home opener against the Portland Trail Blazers. "Now you can load up a side and you can do things that change the game. Last year we experimented with it at times but we didn't whole-heartedly adapt what other team's have been taking advantage of with the new rules situation."

Others have dissected the SOS D better than I can, but what I'll add is that a new challenge offers the side benefit of engrossing the players and elevates playing D. Derek Fisher, Vlad, Gasol and others are, as individual players, below average on D, so spending a lot of time getting them prepared can only help. "The thing that we want to do is be a great defensive team consistently. Offensively we believe we can score with anybody," said Bryant. "Defensively is where we really want to make our mark on the season."