Will Howard Remain a Laker and Who I like in the Playoffs …

 

Kobe Bryant

Could Bryant's injury impact whether or not the Lakers keep Dwight Howard around?

Already underway in the media speculation department is will Dwight Howard remain in Los Angeles next season with the Lakers or will he be elsewhere? It’s an intriguing situation to be sure because there are several angles which of course point in both directions. If Kobe Bryant had suffered a severe ankle sprain and not the ruptured Achilles’ tendon, perhaps the Lakers’ front office vie things differently. Maybe Bryant’s injury has no bearing on their decision about Howard at all.

Here is the best I can figure; Howard will explore other options when free agency kicks in after the season ends and will look for a smaller market than the one he currently is in. Howard has never looked comfortable for even a second in La-La land and perhaps the glare of the big city lights have just been too much for him to handle. What the Lakers have to decide is is Howard a guy worth building the future of the franchise around?

Athletically he is certainly the real deal but my question is can he deal with the pressure? I really believe his comments of the whole season being a ‘nightmare’ following their loss the other night spoke volumes. I would strongly wager Howard goes elsewhere in the fall.

Games on Tab for Tonight

 

J.R. Smith
Smith’s return should provide the Knicks with enough to end the series tonight.

Boston at New York (Knicks Lead Series 3-1) – The Celtics were able to stay alive with a 97-90 overtime win this past weekend and push the series back to New York. The Knicks were playing without J.R. Smith who was suspended following his elbow to the face of Boston’s Jason Terry in game three.

I expect Smith to return with a vengeance in tonight’s game. Not that his elbow wasn’t a stupid move, because it was, but if I’m I don’t want this series going any further. If by some miracle the Celtics push this to seven games, Smith will be the villain who jump-started their comeback effort.

That sounds easier than it is however because I expect not only a big game from Smith but from Carmelo Anthony as well. Boston had to do everything they could just to steal a game and I just can’t see them grabbing one in Madison Square Garden.

Atlanta at Indiana (Series Tied 2-2) – Talk about a tale of two series wrapped into one… The Pacers took care of business on their home court in games one and two and will thankfully return home. I say ‘thankfully’ because the Hawks put an absolute whipping on the Pacers in Atlanta in games three and four.

What we now have is a best of three series with Indiana having two of the three at home. Common sense says this is their series but I’m not ready to go there just yet. Atlanta seems to have found a nice game-plan against the Pacers. I’ll go with Indiana tonight who’ll be happy to be home, but this one is going seven.

Houston at Oklahoma City (Thunder Lead Series 3-1) – I thought all along that Houston would be able to steal at least one game in this series although I didn’t see it happening with Russell Westbrook out for the season.

It will be short-lived excitement however because the Thunder understand the need to get this series over with as soon as possible. With Westbrook out, getting the team and Kevin Durant as much rest as possible is crucial for long-term playoff success.

I like the Thunder to put the Rockets away tonight in OKC.

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