During the 2011 playoffs, the Mavericks swept the Lakers in the 2nd round, and went onto become the world champions. That series, Phil Jackson's last with the team, was just plain ugly as the Lakers completely unraveled and lost total control. Both Andrew Bynum and then Laker (ironically turned Mav) Lamar Odom both took their frustrations out physically on the Mavs JJ Barea who was unstoppable during the series. What's even crazier now is according to the current standings,
the Lakers will play the Mavs in the 1st round of the NBA Western Conference Playoffs. That can obviously change, but it's kinda wild to consider.
Under new coach Mike Brown, can the Lakers luck vs. the Mavericks change? While it is unlikely the Mavericks will win another championship this year, I can see the 6th seeded team getting past the 3rd seeded Lakers. Maybe not in an easy sweep. More like 6 or 7. It will be a fun, competitive series as both teams have everything to prove and nearly everything to lose.
The Mavericks will be defending their title, while the Lakers will be fighting for payback. They were just plain embarrassing last year.
Onto Sunday's game, though. Kobe has a bruised shin, and while he is reportedly walking comfortably, he hasn't even tried running or jumping or doing anything athletic, NBA.com
According to Mike Bresnahan
of the LA Times, the star shooting guard is almost ready to return.
"Bryant will now begin running again, and if that is pain free, can begin drills that involve jumping," Bresnahan said. If there is no discomfort at that point, he will be cleared to play."
The Lakers are 3-1 without Bryant, most recently beating the Denver Nuggets 103-97 Friday night. Lakers' coach Mike Brown missed Friday's game because of a family issue, the LA Times
Andrew Bynum had 30 points, and Matt Barnes had 24 off the bench.
Mike Brown will be back Sunday.
Kobe Bryant will be back soon. There is talk of him missing the rest of the regular season, but chances of that seem slim at best at this point.
Even without Mike Brown and Kobe Bryant, the Lakers clinched a playoff berth with Friday's win.
They won't win the championship this year, but it is still pretty comforting to see them playing as a TEAM, not crumbling without their star and leader.
Is tomorrow's game a preview of what's to come in the Playoffs? Kinda, though, not an entirely fair assessment without Bryant.
I'd keep Kobe out until the playoffs, but that's just me.