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The Los Angeles Lakers' struggles were the topic of conversation for much of the NBA season, with many wondering whether they could even right the ship in time to sneak into the postseason.
Kobe Bryant put the team on his back night after night, and that burden may have ultimately cost him. Bryant went down with a torn Achilles in one of the final games of the regular season, leaving the Lakers without their top scorer and leader. For a team that had a lot of personality clashes throughout the season, it's a sign of bad things to come.
The Lakers draw the San Antonio Spurs in the first round, a team that isn't going to be a great matchup for them. Los Angeles will need unbelievable efforts from Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol in the low post, which is the only area where they could have any type of advantage over Oklahoma City.
Without Bryant, the Lakers are going to get destroyed in the backcourt by Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, amongst a host of others. Ron Artest, coming off an injury, will do his best to frustrate whoever he ends up guarding, but it won't be nearly enough.
Maybe the Lakers can steal one game at home buoyed by their fans as each player tries to step up and fill the void left by Bryant, but I wouldn't bet on it. The Spurs are on a mission to win a championship and aren't going to let this series last any longer than it should, and that's three games.
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