Will Metta World Peace Return Fuel Lakers Playoff Seed?
Yeah, that sentiment can't still hold true, right? The Lakers are definitely hoping so. Because even when Ron Artest does return to the lineup, his one-on-one defensive abilities have taken a hit over the last few years. He's slower and older - plus, he will now be returning from a torn meniscus quite early in his rehabilitation.
The Lakers, lets face it, have just been terribly lackadaisical, or just too old, on the defensive side of the ball all season. Dwight Howard was suppose to alleviate those deficiencies with his presence in the middle, however, he has been unable to make up for the lack of perimeter defense as a whole because he is just one guy. He's also been playing his way back into shape all season after off-season back surgery to remove part of his spine.
Ron, also known as Metta, will try to convince his training staff that returning for the Lakers next game is a good idea and Mike D'Antoni will have sign off on the decision as well - considering Artest has been running with LA in practice over the last few days. Can his diminished defensive presence help the Lakers fight off some stiff competition (Golden State, San Antonio, Houston) as they try to outpace the Utah Jazz for the 8th seed.
That question is one that haunts Laker fans everywhere. They sit 1/2 game behind the Jazz, however, it is essentially a 1 game lead because Utah owns the tie-break.
The Lakers have no had issues finding open shots or somewhat fluid offensive sets, however, they struggle mightily on the defensive side of the ball and it hampers their ability to be within an arms length at the end of games.
The old adage continues to hold true because it's impossible to win if you can't stop your opponent. You can blame it on the hiring of Mike D'Antoni or the addition of an All-star offensive minded point guard who is typically on the IR, or simply age. Either way, the Lakers will need some help and an almost, if not, perfect record in their final five games to make it happen.
Ron Artest or not in the lineup - although they are definitely better with him there - the Lakers will probably fall short of their first-round sweep.