Obviously, how far the Lakers' run in the playoffs goes is going to hang on how far Kobe Bryant is going to take them, but there are a few other key elements that I think are going to have to come into alignment. The first of these is the play of Andrew Bynum. He is going to have to put in solid 15-10 games against guys in the middle who can play. Whether or not he does, will be an indicator of how well the Lakers will do. Sure Pau Gasol's numbers have been down the last couple-three games. Of course it's because Bynum's numbers are up, but Bynum needs to establish himself. We all know what Gasol can do, especially offensively. The next key element is Lamar Odom. He needs to stay around 10 pts, 10 boards, and keep his assist numbers up. He is so versatile, he can go off at any given game for 20-15-10, then turn around and have sub tens the whole way across. Of course, Farmar's return yesterday was a big spark, and if he can contribute the rest of the way, it's going to help the Lakes close out. He is a force multiplier.
Now here is probably the biggest key for the playoffs: Trevor Ariza. This guy plays with fire, is cat-quick, and can really go off on the defensive end when he wants to. Here's the thing, he's still young, so he plays with a high level of intensity every moment he is out there. Sure he makes a dumb mistake now and then, goes for a risky steal and gets burned now and then, but I think it is what the Lakers need to have that defensive burst. Plus, he can come off the bench (I'm sure sometime down the road he'll be the starter) and guard someone like Paul Pierce.
As we head down the stretch, with the All Star break coming up, we need to stay injury free, have quality play, and get a defensive mindset.