Uh, it’s home court, stupid
Is the hysteria over now? Have all those Lakers’ fanatics calmed down?
Can the good people of Southern California finally return to a semblance of normalcy today?
Rarely, if ever, do I remember so many fans panicking at the same time. After Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Co. pillaged the Lakers in Game Four of their first round series, it was like a huge curtain of gloom, instead of the usual smog, enveloped the area.
Well, then a funny thing happened. The Lakers returned to Staples Center and what do you know — all is right with the NBA world again. So, a lot of you want to know, scratching your heads in dismay, how can two teams play two such completely different playoff games?
It’s simple, really. Everything in the NBA is about home court advantage. Especially in the postseason. You play in Oklahoma City, awash in its white t-shirts and shining innocence, the fans screaming like their favorite chicken fried steak doused in country gravy had just been given to them free, and games have a completely unique feel. Let Durant, Westbrook and the guys run up and down the court on the tired Lakers, with the screeching noise echoing across the Oklahoma plains, and the whole thing veers slightly off kilter.
But it’s OK. Because Phil Jackson knows he’s coming back to L.A. for Game Five. What happened Tuesday night hardly surprised anyone who has watched NBA basketball for a long time. Get the World Champs back home, rested and ready, and you saw what happened. They aren’t about to lose a series where they have home court advantage, even against one of the younger, more energized and promising teams in the league.
Now, just like that, the whole playoffs have taken on a different hue. LeBron James suddenly has an injured elbow that was serious enough for him to shoot his final free throw left-handed Tuesday night. If he is hurting the heavy, pre-playoff favorite Cavaliers are very vulnerable.
Must make the Lakers kind of wish they hadn’t frittered away potential home court advantage in the Finals to Orlando, as well as Cleveland. Don’t laugh. That could be huge now.
Because if you didn’t realize it before, you do know. In the playoffs, especially, the trend never has been more clear.
Home court rules.
— Steve Bisheff