Shannon Sharpe Now Convinced Lakers Would Sweep Thunder in Playoffs After 12-Point Win

First Take
First Take /

On Monday night the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder in perhaps their most impressive showing of the season. Anthony Davis in particular had a monster game, going for 24 points and 12 rebounds with three blocks and a steal while shutting down Chet Holmgren and making Shai Gilgeous-Alexander think twice about getting into the paint. As a team the Lakers shot 47 percent from deep and hit the boards hard, out-rebounding OKC by 10 on the evening. It was the sort of complete performance we rarely see out of Los Angeles but exactly the sort of high that Lakers supporters needed to start pushing certain agendas.

Like, say, that the ninth-seeded Lakers would sweep the second-seeded Thunder in a playoff series. Such is the narrative Shannon Sharpe was happy to put forth on First Take today, going so far as to say "we" would sweep the series and it wouldn't even be close.

If you've noticed an increase of Lakers-centric content recently, it is because they have won three of their last five games, and two of those wins came against legit contenders in the Thunder and cross-town rivals Los Angeles Clippers. It has caused a surge of discussion about the Lakers absent from studio show discussion earlier in the season because, you know, the Lakers were bad. Now that they are winning games of note everybody wants to be the first to predict they'll make a deep playoff run because they're getting it together.

It is tempting to scoff and believe this to be pathetic. All these analysts would really prefer to ignore their 10-point loss to the defending champs squeezed between those two big wins. And if anyone bothered to glance below the surface level it is not only possible but actually quite likely that the third-worst three-point shooting team in the NBA (as measured by three-point makes per game) is not going to shoot 47 percent from beyond the arc for an entire series. Sharpe and others like him willfully miss the forest for the trees when the Lakers do something good because it is the Los Angeles Lakers, titans of engagement, who will always draw more eyeballs than play good basketball.

Sadly, it's impossible to dismiss any of this entirely out of hand because this is pretty much what happened last year around this time and the Lakers did, in fact, go on a deep playoff run. They looked dead in the water until they got rid of Russell Westbrook at the trade deadline. When they started to resemble something like a decent team by the end of the year everyone went nuts that LeBron and AD were going to dominate despite everything we had seen earlier that season. And dammit if they weren't pretty much on the nose! The Lakers got a fortunate draw by playing the collapsing Memphis Grizzlies and a Golden State Warirors team that matched up very poorly against them, but they made the run everyone said they could.

So laugh all you want at stuff like this but until we see the Lakers die they cannot be considered dead.