Chuck and I were swilling beers
last night and talking hoops and just marveling at Kobe Bryant's 3rd
quarter in Game 1 of the Finals. Simply put, no matter how much
we hate that guy, he put on an amazing show. The Lakers looked
unbeatable. But… they're not.
First, the Lakers have a
horrible habit of relaxing after dominating performances. Sure,
Kobe might flash his under-bite… which he just decided to unveil a
couple of games ago (*cough* *cough* marketing ploy *cough*) but
everyone else tends to ease off and relax after great games.
there's a formula for beating a guy like Kobe… especially when the
general expectation is for Kobe's supporting cast to take the night
Simply put… you let Kobe do it all. Let
him carry the team… at least for 3 quarters. Let him come out
hot. Let him score 40… even
50… and all you've got to do is keep the score close for the first
36 minutes of the game.
But once the 4th quarter
starts… you run double and triple teams at him. You cut off
every slash… every drive. You force him either to take wild
jumpers… or to dump the ball off to his cold, gawking teammates.
You know, the guys who you've made stand around for 3 quarters as if
they had seats next to Jack Nicholson. They've had no chance to
get into any flow. Pau Gasol will pout. Lamar Odom will
get lazy. Andrew Bynum will get moody. And then you ask them all to suddenly produce.
That's your chance to make the run. You take advantage of the Lakers disarray on offense by running and forcing them to play transition D. The frustration on the offensive end can lead to problems on the defensive end and you can pull away.
Of course, this is easier said than done. I understand there are variables. You have to produce on your end as well. You have to assume that Turkoglu, Lewis and Howard are going to give you at least average production. You're going to have to be able to take advantage in the 4th quarter. And you're going to have to make sure you ACTUALLY stop Kobe from going to the basket. But if you can succeed in taking the supporting cast out of the game and turning them into spectators until they're forced to suddenly produce, you have a great chance to win this thing.