The Lakers didn't seem to care much for the Christmas day match up, while LeBron James and the Heat saw it as a statement game. The Lakers haven't seem to have the need to make any kind of statement this year. With the schedule getting tougher, they need to make a statement in a hurry. Photo by Jeff Lewis
Nonchalant attitude not only cost the Lakers against the Heat, it could cost them home court advantage come playoff time.By Jason LewisSentinel Sports Editor
The Christmas day loss against the Miami Heat is not a big deal. That game had “loss” written all over it for the Lakers, just like last year on Christmas day when LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers crushed the Lakers at Staples Center.It’s just one over hyped match up, and the loss last year did not affect the Lakers, as they finished with the top seed in the Western Conference and they won the NBA title for the second consecutive year. Over the past 12 years the Lakers are 4-8 on Christmas day, but they have managed to win 5 NBA titles over that period, while appearing in the NBA Finals seven times.But this year is different from last year. The Lakers are 21-9 this season, while last year, after losing to the Cavs on Christmas, they were 23-5, three full games better. That may not sound like much, but seeing that they are five games behind the San Antonio Spurs and three games behind the Dallas Mavericks, there is a problem. Many Laker fans continue to say that the Lakers will show up come playoff time, but if the team continues to go down that road, they’ll be hitting the road in the post season. The Lakers have played 12 playoff series over the last three seasons, and their record is 11-1 in those series. The Lakers have held home court advantage in 11 of those series. The only series that they did not have home court advantage was in the NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics in 2008, and the Lakers lost!Anybody thinking that this Lakers team does not need home court is fooling themselves, and if the Lakers think that they can just flip the switch come playoff time, they will be in for a rude awakening. If the Lakers want to get the top seed in the West, they have an uphill battle in front of them, because their schedule is back loaded with good teams. Out of the six other 20 win teams, the Lakers have only played two of them, both losses, to the Heat and Utah Jazz. So they still have four games against the Spurs, three games against the Mavericks, Jazz, and Oklahoma City Thunder, two games against the Celtics and one more game against the Heat. Looking at the next tier of teams, the Lakers have four games against New Orleans Hornets (18 wins), and two games against the Atlanta Hawks (19 wins) and New York Knicks (18 wins).The Lakers haven’t played a tough schedule at all, which is why the 21-9 record is alarming. They have losses against the Milwaukee Bucks, Memphis Grizzlies, Indiana Pacers, and Phoenix Suns. All of those teams are below .500 and are going to struggle to make the playoffs.If the Lakers continue down the path that they are on, they will make the hole that they are already in even deeper. Seeing that they have struggled at times against a weak schedule, it’s not a good feeling knowing that the schedule get a lot tougher. It is time for the Lakers to flip the switch and start playing at a championship level. Trying to catch the Spurs from five games out is going to be extremely tough, and as time goes on, it is going to be tougher to get home court advantage for the NBA Finals.
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