If there was one team of the three possible choices to play in the first round, the Lakers got the one they hoped for: the New Orleans Hornets.
Faced with the possibility of playing the Portland Trail Blazers and the Memphis Grizzlies, the Lakers earned the second-seed in the Western Conference, and will instead meet the Hornets, a team they defeated four times in the regular season.
Aside from Kobe Bryant, the Lakers' strong suit is their size. Unfortunately for the Hornets, the weakest part of their game is their size.
The Hornets are also without one of their best scorers in David West. With West injured, the burden of scoring is directed at Chris Paul, and a collection of role players.
But the real burden will be on the defensive end. The Hornets lack in size, and 6'10 Emeka Okafor will be responsible for containing 7'0 Pau Gasol, who averaged 18.8 points per game on the season.
But Gasol averaged 22.3 points per game in the four victories over New Orleans, and when the All-Star power forward isn't in the line-up, Okafor will have to deal with 6'10 Lamar Odom.
Meanwhile, Lakers' center Andrew Bynum has averaged 15 points per game against the Hornets, and is expected to be in action for Game One, after suffering a hyper-extended knee injury.
The Hornets will need inspired play from former Laker Trevor Ariza. The 6'8 forward may be called upon to guard Kobe Bryant. Ariza is also among the leading scorers on the squad, averaging 11 points per game.
Where the Hornets have the Lakers beat is at point guard. Los Angeles has struggled for most of the season with Derek Fisher's inconsistent play, and now with Steve Blake out of the line-up with the chicken pox.
It will be up to Paul to exploit that point guard matchup if the Hornets expect to advance to the Western Conference semi-finals.
Unfortunately for New Orleans, that's about the only clear area they are better at than the Lakers.
PREDICTION: The Lakers sweep the Hornets, as the Lakers' big men dominate the paint on offense and defense. Bryant can be expected to have a big series, as well.