Using Off-Days, Avoiding Rust

With the Lakers advancing to the second round of the playoffs in just four games the only thing they can do now is sit back and wait to find out who their second round opponent will be.

Houston whipped the Jazz last night, edging the series back to 3-2 as they head back to Salt Lake City for game six on Friday night.

Head Coach Phil Jackson is wary about a mental letdown that off-days can create, citing the extended layoff the team had before the 2001 finals.

“There’s a certain sense of tension that comes along with playing a lot that you have to get ready for the match, the bout, the contest, and the energy that you have to summon play at it. The longer you get away from it, the more you forget about it. That one year that we were walking through the playoffs without a loss we had ten days off between the Philadelphia series where we lost the first game of that series.”

Kobe Bryant is looking forward to a couple days of to recuperate, but isn’t worried about the team having a let down because of their competitive spirit in practice, “Obviously there’s nothing like the game, but we’re a team that gets in here and works hard.”

In the meantime the Lakers will use these next couple of days to rest players with nagging injuries and get back to basics.

“I think you can do some things with players—things that have slipped off, the fundamentals, the skills that you can’t get done, the rest and the treatment that they need. Some of our players got two days off today,” said Jackson.

Guard Derek Fisher stressed the importance that these couple of down days can have to a team after an 82-game season. “The ability to get rest is one that over time really can be an advantage for you. Having the opportunity to heal up and be fresh right away at the start of the next series, but also be in a position to be able to sustain it no matter how long the series goes.”

The Hornets and Spurs wrapped up their series last night and will meet each other starting Saturday in New Orleans.