Saturday, April 29, 2006

Glitch in the Matrix

The Suns are down 2-1 to the seventh-seeded Lakers and are in danger of bowing out of the playoffs in the first round. This isn't terribly surprising, as they are without Amare (and have been all season) and Kurt Thomas (and now possibly Tim Thomas as well), and are playing a Lakers team that really found the range down the stretch. I had L.A. in six, so I personally can't say I'm surprised. What is more interesting to discuss is not the "what" here, but the "why." Most people are crediting Kobe Bryant and his sudden interest in team play as the reason the Lakers are in front. I find this somewhat hilarious, because all he's doing is playing hard and letting his teammates dominate inside. Seems like common sense, but hey, this is his year, so it is all praise be to Kobe. Regardless of whether you think 17 points on 6-for-18 shooting is worthy of a parade, I think reasonable minds can agree that currently-number-eight-soon-to-be-number-24 probably isn't the biggest reason the Lakers have seized control of this series.

The biggest reason why L.A. looks like the powerhouse in this series is that Lamar Odom is playing like he did in the 2004 playoffs with Miami. More to the point, he is KILLING Shawn Marion right now. Odom is averaging 19 points, 13 boards, and 4 assists while shooting 53% from the field, while The Matrix (supposedly the far superior player) is going for 17, 8, and 1, on 43% shooting. There's the difference in the series. Odom is gathering in passes and finishing at the rim, while Marion is blowing layups or getting his shot blocked (by Odom, in many cases). Marion is consistently getting beat by Odom off the dribble, causing the Suns' defense to completely break down. Odom has poured in 5 big threes while Marion is 2-for-9 and missing one huge shot after another.

There are a lot of reasons why L.A. is poised to win this series - and one of them is certainly the solid defense and good teammwork of Bryant - but none is bigger than the absolute woodshed level beating that Odom is laying on Marion right now. For the Suns to have any hope of winning this series, they need to get the Playoff Glitch ironed out of their Matrix.

No comments: