Work in Sports
Reactions: Killer instinct?
Even championship teams can lose games, users say
Posted: Monday June 19, 2000 07:09 PM
CNNSI.com asked users after Game 5 of the NBA Finals if the Lakers lacked the "killer instinct" to put away the Pacers. While some of the responses agreed with this statement, the majority argued that even great teams lose games, too.
The NBA Finals are so thoroughly covered by so many writers that a "pack mentality" sets in. This year the theme is: "The Lakers can't finish teams off, the way the great teams of the past could."
Makes for a convenient hook, except there's no sense of history. Jordan only gets to make his famous final game-winning shot against Utah in Game Six, because the Bulls "couldn't finish them off" in Game Five. The Bulls have the Sonics down 3-0, and "couldn't finish them off" in Games Four AND Five, forcing a return to Chicago for the series-ending Game Six. How many NBA Finals did the Celtics win going to a Game Seven when "Boston couldn't finish off their opponent" sooner? What about the most recent Laker Finals winner when LA needed three consecutive seven-game series to win the championship that year?
Maybe, just maybe, some credit has to be given to the other playoff team that they aren't there just to be a prop. Teams lose games in series play; it's as simple as that! Hell, even the greatest Yankee teams during their dynasty lost games while winning gobs of World Series...
Any time you have a 3-1 lead you have a tendacy to relax and take things easy. The Lakers know the pacers have to beat them two times in a row and they know that this is almost impossible, considering the next two games are to be played in the Staples Center. The only thing that matters is winning the champinship; a task that the Lakers will accomplish Monday night.
I see people saying the Bulls ALWAYS had killer instinct when in fact this is not true. Here are some examples of how the Bulls (and other great teams such as the Lakers and Celtics of the 80's) did not always have killer instinct. This is by no means a comprehensive list. I took these examples on a random basis.
1998 - Bulls/Jazz - Bulls go up 3-1 and lose game 5 at home. No killer instinct.
1996 - Bulls/Sonics - Bulls go up in the series 3-0. In a game 4 closeout game the Sonics blow the Bulls out by 21 points! The Bulls also lose game 5 as well. Two close-out games and no killer instinct for the Bulls here.
1993 - Bulls/Suns - Bulls go up 3-1 and lose game 5. No killer instinct.
1987 - Lakers/Celtics. Lakers go up 3-1 and lose game 5. No killer instinct.
1986 - Celtics/Rockets. Celtics go up 3-1 and lose game 5. No killer instinct.
1982 - Lakers/Sixers. Lakers go up 3-1 and lose game 5. No killer instinct.
In conclusion, the bottom line is winning. The great teams always win when they have to and the Lakers have done that this year.
The Pacers are finished. I think the Lakers espected them to come out flat on Friday and they were a little to confident which got their behinds blown out. The Pacers have no answer for Shaq diesel and Kid Kobe will not have two bad games back to back (4-20. This game will be over with by halftime on Monday night. It's almost impossible to beat a team as Indiana the way they were firing 3-pointers. The Lakers will win with their defense on Monday. Remember what they did to Sacramento!!!
Wow, the media take a look from every anti-Laker angle imaginable (Listening to Costas, you'd think the Pacers were ahead in the series). The Lakers beat a tremendously talented Portland team just to GET to the finals, and their fans have to listen to this junk. Here's a question: why can't the media darling Utah Jazz put ANYBODY away and win a championship? To criticize the Lakers while praising those guys is the height of hypocrisy in my opinion.
If anyone can blow the 3-1 lead, its the Lakers, who are uniquely poor at "stepping on the neck" to finish off an opponent: They have shown a tendency to let up in close out games, and bad tendencies tend to get worse when championships are on the line. They're young, and inconsistent.
It also hurts them that they are so overconfident. Glen Rice's remarks about "no championship banners in Conseco" may come back to haunt him, maybe when he's mailing out resumes.
Could it possibly be that they are playing talented teams? Look at this series, the Pacers should have a 3-2 lead -- L.A. should feel lucky to be where they are.
Fear. I don't know if you have seen some early Serena Williams, like when she was within one point of winning it all, suddenly her game changed and she lost. It just seems to happen with Shaq, Kobe and Co. especially in the Portland series. They seem to get scared of winning. Maybe thinking so much about the glamour and where the next win can take them they forget to actually get the win, until the possibilty of losing it all becomes so real that it wakes them up. Unfortunate. But maybe once they know what's behind door number 2, they won't be afraid anymore. We'll all find that out next year.
The Lakers, although abundant in talent and potential, are fairly young and lacks maturity and leadership. Hence, the team needed an outstanding coach to try to put together the different skills into a cohesive and dangerous force on the court. Unfortunately, a great coach cannot shoot the ball or defend the opponent. He relies on the team members to do the execution and delivery. The inconsistency is the greatest challenge faced by the Lakers.
I think the Lakers can't get anymore luckier than they were this season. Think about it. Kobe Bryant got injured for game 2, that should help the Pacers right? Wrong, it ended with Glen Rice and Ron Harper both scoring 21 points. Where are they now? They both are invisible after that game. And the Portland situation at the fourth quarter. What's the deal with that? How does a team like Portland just completely breaks down like that and let the Lakers win? It's all luck for the Lakers. As far as I'm concerned, the Lakers shouldn't even be here at the finals right now.
You know the Lakers want to make the Finals more exciting by letting teams eventually they would beat come back. In addition, in Indiana series they want to go home and celebrate their championship in Game 6.
It too early to say the Lakers don't have a killer instinct. If you look at the history of the NBA most championship are won on your home floor and that why the homecourt advantage is so important. The Lakers can take care of home on Monday or Wednesday and in the minds of the average fans (those are the one who watch the games and teams) will have proven themselves as winner. Words like killer instinct, putting teams away are just locker room motivational speeches, The team that get the championship trophy is the team who get to four wins first and the Lakers only need one win and Pacers need two.
Ron Harper was right on in declaring that the Lakers lacked the killer instinct of the Chicago Bulls. L.A. is now 2-5 in games where they could have eliminated an opponent and a miraculous comeback was needed for them to defeat Portland in Game Seven. How can this team be declared a dynasty when they have shown a continual failure to nail the coffin on teams?
Okay, I'm a Pacers fan, so I may be biased. But the Lakers have looked to me like a team that when they get close to winning a series, they think all those CNN/SI and ESPN articles saying they're gonna close the series out in the next game are enough to win it for them.
I hated the Bulls because I envied them and especially because of the Eastern Conference Finals a couple years back. But at least they knew that press clippings weren't enough to put a team away.