Here we go! The seventh seeded Hornets open up the playoffs today against the second seeded Lakers. Almost no one is giving the Hornets a chance to win even one game... even the most optimistic of projectors see the Hornets winning just one game. The Lakers are ten point favorites for this game, which is a bit embarrassing and implies the Hornets have basically no chance.
Look, there is one way the Hornets to compete in this series, and it's pretty simple- Chris Paul, the rightful MVP from a few years ago, shows up. The Lakers one weakness is speed- they can't cover super quick point guards, and they don't like to run the floor. This Hornets team isn't built to run the floor, but (when he's at full strength) they do have the best of super quick point guards in Chris Paul. If CP3 goes retro, he could potentially put up 30 points and 12 assists a game or so. Even that might not be enough, but it would give the Hornets a shot.
Forget Kobe Bryant.... these two are the Lakers main weapon, especially against the Hornets. According to espn, Bynum and Gasol sport 5 inches and over 30 pounds on the Hornets duo, but I personally think even that understates the size advantage here. In the last meeting between the two teams, Gasol and Bynum overpowered the Hornets for 36 points on 14 of 20 shooting, 21 boards, and five blocks. Landry and Oak actually had decent days on the offensive end, but to win they need to limit the Lakers big men while contributing on the offensive end. Bonus- watch out for the big Gray-monster. Given the Lakers size, Gray will receive significant playing time. He's been pretty effective when called upon recently, so let's hope he keeps that up.
Trevor Ariza vs Kobe Bryant
Bryant went off for 30 points on 11 of 25 shooting last time the two meet, while Ariza had just 4 points on 2 of 7 shooting. Honestly, against the Lakers, it's ok for Koba to score 25-30 points against you.... but you can't let him do it effectiently. Make him stop the ball and take 30-35 shots to get his points, and you've got a shot. Ariza needs to make Kobe work the whole series.
The Lakers are ten point favorites. Honestly, this is the match up every Hornets fan dreaded... too much size, too much strength, too much talent. I hate to be a doubter, but my gut and recent history both say the Hornets can't keep up with the Lake show.
Lakers 104, Hornets 82... Lakers sweep the series