Friday afternoon reading …
No more games on consecutive nights. No more games on back-to-back-to-back nights either. No more days without practice because the players are too exhausted.
Goodbye lockout-impacted regular season. Hello playoffs.
The third-seeded Lakers begin the postseason Sunday afternoon against the No. 6 Denver Nuggets at Staples Center. Game 2 is Tuesday at Staples, with the best-of-7 series then shifting to Denver’s Pepsi Center for Game 3 on Friday and Game 4 on May 6.
Lakers coach Mike Brown can’t wait. It would seem the hard part is over.
Now the Lakers can show what they’ve learned from their new coach.
“For as short as the season was, with no training camp or practices, I feel good where our team is sitting,” Brown said. “I thought our guys did a nice job of trying to learn whatever we were throwing out to them initially.
“They’ve made changes. We’ve made changes. I think it’s been a good thing.”
Brown didn’t have the time he needed to install his new offensive and defensive schemes after taking over for the retired Phil Jackson last May. Brown had only two weeks and two exhibitions to prepare his team once the lockout ended in December.
The Lakers learned on the run, and after some trials and tribulations, they began to adapt after the All-Star break in late February. It wasn’t easy for them to ditch Jackson’s triangle offense in favor of Brown’s low-post oriented game plan.
They began the season struggling to top 100 points, but by the end they were reaching it comfortably and occasionally at the expense of their defense. Their offense started with Kobe Bryant as the focal point back in December, but became more diverse with 7-footer Andrew Bynum playing a larger role.
“I think our guys have done a marvelous job of finishing third in the West when we could have easily finished sixth, seven, eighth or whatever and not thought twice about it because of all the changes we went through,” Brown said.
“The (offensive) foundation is pretty much the same, but we’ve tweaked it here and there. We’ve also tweaked some of our half-court (plays) to some of our guys’ strengths now that we know what our guys’ strengths are.”
Brown figured it would be difficult, but “it was probably worse,” than he imagined. “It was the toughest season I’ve been a part of,” he added. “All I can say is we had to do stuff on the fly. In the past, I kind of always had a hard time letting things go.”
So, if something didn’t click immediately, he had to try something else.
“You had to move on to the next thing because you don’t want to overload the guys with information,” Brown said after the regular-season finale Thursday. “It’s been a year of change for me, I know that much. A lot of learning, yes.”