A year ago no one would have thought a missing Steve on the Lakers roster would prove a detriment. Then, this summer, Los Angeles acquired Steve Nash. Now he and Steve Blake are riding the bench and the team is below .500. Luckily Nash is due back soon and the Lakers are destined to make a Mike D’Antoni-inspired run over the hump and back up to the top of the Pacific Division.
This would be fitting as the current top team in the division is the Staple-center fraternal twin Clippers, and there is nothing sweeter than letting Clipper fans believe they actually have a chance to outplay the Lakers before crushing those tattered spirits of a franchise in need of banner (the Lakers, NHL Kings, and WNBA Sparks each have championships, this is just getting sad).
Of course, in addition to an injury-ridden Nash, the Lakers have perhaps the most dangerous four in the league out on day-to-day status. Pau Gasol is the Big Man with skill who perfectly complements the pure athletic physicality of Center Dwight Howard. All this has made the beginning of the D’Antoni era anything but spectacular. So far the Lakers are 5-6 under his watch. He is going to improve his record as soon as Steve Nash returns after this road trip ends.
Once Nash joins Bryant in the backcourt and Gasol and Howard make just about any offensive set a possibility, the Lakers tickets those dedicated fans at the Staple Center purchased back in July will start feeling like a warm up to the NBA Finals tickets.
There is certainly little in the Western Conference to stop them. The conference is deep as always, but there is no plethora of dominant basketball teams. The Lakers are not the lone great team yet. Over the course of the next 60 games the roster needs to put on a show and demonstrate the potential to take out the champion Miami Heat. Then Nash can finally get the ring he deserves and all can be right in the NBA.