Prisoner of the moment. It's my phrase of the week. I used it the other day in my early thoughts on the series. During the playoffs, the stakes for every play are heightened both positively and negatively. In any championship run there will inevitably be times when things look better than they are and not as bad as they seem.
In the case of the Lakers, fans and media members sometimes tend to find fault in wins and seek FEMA assistance after losses. But while the Lakers may have shortcomings in different areas, getting caught up in this sort of thing isn't one. Wednesday at practice, I asked Phil Jackson how they pull that off:
When I listed yesterday to PJ's response to my follow up, initially I found it a little simplistic. There's more to maintaining a team's sense of balance than making sure players are eating right and not entertaining too many guests. I don't think Jackson would claim otherwise. But at the same time, this time of year is all about simplifying. Win the game, lose the game. Improving, not improving.
Go to bed early. Eat right. Don't entertain guests.
The rest is window dressing and unnecessarily complicated. Look two games ahead, lose the one you're playing. Assume a team will roll over, end up playing seven against Houston.
Earlier in the season, I wondered if this Lakers team, for a variety of reasons including some beyond their control (health), had the capacity to shake off adversity. Certainly they failed tests along the way. But at the risk of reading too much into a six-game winning streak (including four against a Utah team clearly overmatched) I'm a lot more confident now. That doesn't necessarily mean the Lakers will automatically win another title, but they seem far less likely to shoot themselves in their collective foot while trying.