Laker fans have already begun their routine to explain away two losses to the Cavs...."we don't care about regular-season games" seems to be the prevailing excuse*. Fans of the purple and gold are scrambling to cope with a game they fully expected to win in a blowout and they're grasping for the first piece of rationale that has any logic whatsoever.
The problem with this latest piece of "logic" is that they DO care about regular-season games. They just care about them when it benefits their own goals.
They're right, nothing is settled fully in the regular season. But standards are set, game plans are ratcheted up, and patterns emerge. The Cavaliers biggest weakness last year has been resolved, and the Lakers didn't adapt to that change enough. We now know how to beat them. But this post isn't about them. They're already our bitch. This is about us.
Last year, the regular season meant everything, because we were exposed as a superpower. When we faced the best teams in the league, we won 3 games and lost 6. We couldn't slow down the combined strengths of the Celtics, Lakers and Magic.
We tried to explain it away by shouting out "66-16!", but the truth was out there. We did NOT match up well with Boston, Orlando and Los Angeles.
That continued in the playoffs when we were bounced 4-2 by Orlando. Going 5-10 against the NBA's best was the reason 2008-09 was a failure.
Take a look around. Everything has changed. We're matching up like a mo-fo now.
Right now, there are 9 teams battling for the best record in the league. Cleveland, Los Angeles, Boston, Orlando, Atlanta, Portland, San Antonio, Dallas and Denver are all playing over .600 ball and will all likely be in the championship conversation in a serious manner until playoff time. These are the best teams in the league, bar none.
And how are the Cavs against these teams?
- vs Lakers - 2-0
- vs Celtics - 0-1
- vs Magic - 1-0
- vs Hawks - 2-0
- vs Blazers - 2-0
- vs Spurs - 0-0
- vs Mavericks - 1-1
- vs Nuggets - 0-1
That's 8-3 against the 2009-2010 league best. And 3-1 against the teams that took care of us last year.
Write it off if you want, Lakers fans....but we've resolved the issues we had last year. Our biggest weaknesses are no longer a problem for us.
Be afraid of the Cavaliers. Be very afraid. The regular season results have shown who is the team to beat in the playoffs. Yes, every game matters. Even the ones you lose.
* - For some reason, they also seem to be wetting the bed over confetti falling from the ceiling after we beat L.A. Guys, that happens after every game. Get over yourselves.