Ted Green: What the Cavaliers' sweep of the Lakers really means
This handy Q&A, a must for every Lakers fan, should help:
1. Does the sweep mean the Cavs are better?
Not necessarily better or more talented one through 12, but definitely tougher, physically stronger and playing with a deeper, more palpable sense of urgency. If that means better right now, then, yes, they're better.
2. Is LeBron better than Kobe?
No, LeBron James isn't better. Kobe Bryantstill has the much broader skill set, the bigger tool box, if you will. But LeBron is the Olympic rings of the fully evolved NBA superathlete: citius, altius fortius ... faster, higher, stronger. He’s far and away the best pure athlete I’ve seen in 40 years of covering the NBA. And bless Ron Artest, the Lakers have no one to guard LeBron unless Kobe volunteers for that thankless job himself.
3. Now that LeBron leads Kobe in head-to-head matchups, nine wins to five, did last night somehow represent a symbolic passing of the torch?
No. No matter how many points LeBron scores or highlight reels he makes, no matter how much chalk flies, East Coast media hype notwithstanding, the true torch of greatness, being the best there is, cannot be passed until LeBron is holding up the Larry O'Brien Trophy, which Kobe has already done four times.
4. Was Pau Gasol's finesse nature responsible for the loss?
To a degree, yes. You saw how Kobe called out his big guys, Gasol and Andrew Bynum, albeit in a politically correct way in his postgame remarks, didn't you? If -- I think it's when -- the Lakers and Cavs meet in the Finals in June, they're gonna need the Pau from the '09 championship series against the Magic rather than the Pau Gasoft who buckled in Cleveland on Thursday night.
5. What can Phil Jacksondo, what adjustments can he make for the Cavs, should they meet for the whole enchilada in June?
In this particular matchup, Phil needs to stop loving Derek Fisher more than Pete Carroll loved Matt Barkley. The Lakers have to counter the Cavs' power with more speed. That means more Shannon Brown andJordan Farmar and a little less Fish, who we all love but, face it, dude is 35. Brown and Farmar did not play enough last night in Cleveland.
6. What are we to make of Shaquille O'Neal's outplaying Bynum in both meetings this season?
Uh, he's still Shaq. Even at 40% of his former self, the Big Comedian is so massive now, he probably weighs 380 (I'm not joking) and can push Bynum, even at 290, all over the gym. Also, in games that matter, I don't think it's inaccurate or mean to say that 40% of Shaq is still better than 100% of Andrew Bynum. The Lakers don't run many high pick-and-rolls in the triangle, but they need to run the play more often because it exposes Shaq's slowness; he can't cover it.
7. Would losing both games to the Cavs set off alarm bells in El Segundo?
It's not four alarms, but if that Chris Bosh deal for Bynum is still out there, it isn't far-fetched to think the Lakers' temptation level might have grown just a touch in the last 24 hours.
8. What else did getting swept by the Cavs mean?
It means the Lakers had better keep their foot on the accelerator to gain home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. They should be able to do it, especially with Cleveland's No. 2 scoring option, Mo Williams, out for a month. I think they're gonna need that extra game at Staples to beat the Cavs.
-- Ted Green
Green formerly covered the Lakers for the L.A. Times. He is currently Senior Sports Producer for KTLA Prime News
Photo: Lakers power forward Pau Gasol has his shot altered by Cavaliers forward LeBron James late in the game Thursday night. Credit: David Maxwell / EPA