COMMENTARY | The Los Angeles Lakers have been through a lot in the last seven days, and now it's time to play basketball again.
On Friday night against the Phoenix Suns, they'll be tested against a 4-5 team that features plenty of youth and athleticism, two departments the Lakers lack in. But the game also marks our first glimpse of new head coach Mike D'Antoni's highly-touted offense.
Though D'Antoni will not be on the sidelines until Sunday's game, he has already spent a considerable amount of time with his new squad in practice. Kobe Bryant was sold on his abilities to lead the team to its 17th title, but after just a few short days in Los Angeles, it appears D'Antoni has buy-in from the entire team.
That's the most important aspect.
If the Lakers are going to shed themselves from the slow, un-athletic and stagnant offense fans have seen far too much of under head coach Mike Brown, then they will need a new identity. Enter D'Antoni's system, once nicknamed "Seven Seconds or Less" for its high pace and run-and-gun style of execution.
Though it may not have the same look as it did in its heyday when Steve Nash was putting together back-to-back MVP campaigns, the Lakers could be poised to run a 2012-13 version of "Showtime".
From 2005 to 2008, D'Antoni's Suns teams led by Nash were the most prolific and fast-paced in the league. During those four years, they ranked No.1 three times and third once in points per game. In the pace metric, the statistic that measures at team's estimated number of possessions per 48 minutes, his teams ranked first twice, third, and fourth in each of those seasons.
The Lakers' personnel is different from those teams, and Nash is not as fresh as he was when he won those two MVPs. But the Lakers have the talent and ability to get up and down the floor, and it should be a lot more fun to watch than watching them struggle to grasp the read-and-react offense installed by Brown.
It's only one game, and the Lakers won't even have D'Antoni on the sidelines, but don't be surprised to see inspired, energetic play from the Lake Show on Friday night.
Michael C. Jones is a Yahoo! Featured Contributor in Sports and covers the Los Angeles Lakers and the NBA.
You can follow him on Twitter @MikeJonesTweets