After the Los Angeles Lakers got their butts handed to them by their rival Boston Celtics in the 2008 Finals, it was clear what set the two teams apart. The Celtics were a team built on defensive intensity and toughness. In short, they knew how to stop people. The Lakers, on the other hand, didn't have a clue on that side of the ball.
Post the Pau Gasol trade, the Lakers were the league's best offensive team. That offensive prowess is what allowed them to destroy the Western Conference in the playoffs. However, their lack of defensive prowess is what would be their demise in the Finals.
From the first two games of this season, it's obvious that the Lakers have made a concerted effort to improve their defensive deficiencies of last season. So far the team has been an absolute monster out there defensively. It's an aggressive, swarming, trapping defense that reminds me more of the Celtics of 2008 than the Lakers we came to know last season. It's also the main thing the announcers have been commenting about in the first two games.
I'm sure the addition of Andrew Bynum has aided the cause a bit. With the addition of Bynum, the Lakers are putting more pressure on the ball because if they get burnt, they know they'll have Bynum's interior presence as a last line of defense. Bynum has had 3 block in each of the first two games.
The aggressive defense has also aided the Lakers on the offensive side of the ball, as it has allowed them to get out and run a ton more.
If this offensive juggernaut can turn itself into one of the top defensive teams in the league, they are going to be very tough to contend with. Lets see if the Lakers can keep up the defensive effort throughout the entire season.