Lakers/Spurs, A First Look

Kurt —  May 20, 2008

This series is going to be an interesting chess match, as both teams have some very powerful offensive weapons and both play impressive defense (although the Lakers tend to be more spotty on that end).

Some will say you can’t take much from the Lakers/Spurs meetings this past season (the Lakers only had Gasol for one of the games, the Spurs were without key players in both losses), but I think when you look back you see some things that will be trends in this series.

April 13, Lakers 106, Spurs 85. The Spurs were without Ginobili, who was out with a groin strain, but stayed even through the first half. The Lakers started the second half with a 17-6 run and never looked back.

The trends: Most importantly second half was one of the Lakers better defensive halves of the season, and they did something I think we may well see again to defend Duncan. From Bill Bridges at the time:

The Spurs try to force the opponent to double team Duncan who then passes it out for open 3’s. The rotation is usually easy for Duncan to spot as it comes from the wing or corner. In the second half. The Lakers didn’t double him as much. Instead, when the Spur in the corner facing Duncan cleared baseline, the Laker guarding him followed his man past Duncan but then immediately turned back to double him from the blindside. This disrupted Duncan’s usual kick outs because his usual normal targets were still covered yet he was being doubled hard from the baseline. Very smart and effective.

Also, the Lakers had a very balanced attack in the win, with six players in double digits but no one with more than 20 points – that depth is something the Lakers can use to their advantage in this series. We can debate which team has the better top three, but the Lakers are much better 4 through 10 and that is something they can and should exploit.

Finally, Lamar Odom had 17 points, 14 boards and was a game-best +26. He will have to have more big games like that for the Lakers to advance, the Spurs have some big bodies but will have time matching the speed of both Gasol and Odom.

January 23, Spurs 103, Lakers 91. This was the Lakers in between Bynum and Gasol. The Lakers still jumped out to a 14 point second quarter lead and led at the half, the Spurs came out with a 14-0 run to start the second half and a 15-2 run at the end of the quarter sealed the Spurs win.

The trend: The Spurs pulled away thanks to very good on the ball pressure that stopped the Lakers ball movement and got the Lakers into isolation. In this series the Lakers cannot revert to that game, they need the offense to continue as it has recently against the best defensive team than they have faced in a while.

December 13. Lakers 102, Spurs 97. Not a lot you can take away from this, Duncan and Parker missed the game, and the Lakers got Ginobili in foul trouble so he missed much of the game.

The trend: The Lakers starters still got outplayed, it was the Lakers bench that won the game (all the starters had negative +/- numbers for the game). We mentioned depth before but it bears repeating.

November 13, Spurs 107, Lakers 92. Parker and Ginobili drove into the lane at will, the Lakers defense collapsed on them, and on the kick-outs Bowen went 6 of 6 from beyond the arc.

The trend: As the season wore on the habit of the Lakers to collapse in the paint off three-point shooters has decreased, but it is not something they can revert to in this series. The Spurs thrive on the three, they averaged nearly 20 a game during the regular season, and they hit 36.9% of them as a team because they get good looks. Duncan can demand the double team, and the penetration of Parker and Ginobili can mean open looks on kick-outs. The Lakers cannot sag into the paint and give the Spurs shooters looks from beyond the arc.

——————————————-

There is something mentioned in several comments and stories – that Pau Gasol has played Tim Duncan tough through the years. Some say that dates all the way back to the 2004 Olympics when Gasol dominated Duncan.

We’ll see if it is true, but I tried to look back at the Spurs games against Memphis from this season where the two played and measured the +/-. I should note I don’t know how much of the time Gasol was directly matched up with Duncan, so consider these numbers very crude.

On Oct. 31, Gasol was +10, Duncan had 17 points on 46% shooting. On November 23, Gasol was -6, Duncan had 28 points on 82% shooting. December 30, Gasol -19, Duncan had 24 points of 50% shooting.

I’m not sure we take anything from that, just throwing the numbers out there.

UPDATE: KD reminds me that he looked at the Gasol/Duncan matchup way back at the start of the playoffs, and he has a lot more info than I did. Because he’s damn good.

Kurt

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87 responses to Lakers/Spurs, A First Look

  1. I dread Tony Parker far more than Tim Duncan. The 2004 semis come to mind. Back then we could pack the lane, but now Parker is a midrange assassin.

    Lamar will be one of the biggest keys to victory. They really have no one to match up with him; I can already envision him eating Oberto alive.

    What I would really love to see is Pau step up and be the focus on the offensive end. Why? Because I’m dying to see Kobe turn into the lockdown defender he was with Team USA. And when (fingers crossed) Ariza comes back? We might see shades of the “Dobermans” Phil unleashed in MJ and Scottie when he took over the Bulls.

    In the past Kobe has often taken Bowen’s peskiness as a personal challenge and tried to break him down one on one. He needs to resist that urge and stay within the flow of the offense.

    To Kobe: please don’t roam. Bowen should be the easiest player in the NBA to guard, he has only 1 shot – the baseline 3. There should be absolutely no reason Bowen gets any more than 5 points a game when he’s that offensively limited.

  2. Can’t believe we’re in the WCF after all the brewhaha during the summer. Lakers / Spurs… mmm…

    Anyway, too small a sample size, and more importantly, we’re comparing Grizzlies to Spurs with that +/-.

    I don’t think Kobe will have a better +/- than Parker if we stick Kobe to WNBA teams and Parker to the All-Star team.

    But those other numbers are somewhat troubling if they were matched up for most of them…

  3. Meant Kobe Bryant vs. Smush Parker not TP.

  4. I think that most important thing against the Spurs is not to stop running and fast-breaking. We should not buy into their half-court offense and tire them out by running down the floor. All of our big guys (Pau, LO, Ronny) can run and it will add additional problems to the likes of Kurt Thomas, Robert Horry and Fabricio Oberto.

    Also, Ginobili (sorry for misspelling) is starting the games now. So it will be a tough match-up for our starters from the beginning. But when starters take rest, our bench should destroy theirs. The only guy capable of scoring double digits from the Spurs bench (with the exception of starter-now Ginobili) is Michael Finley and even he has been having troubles this year. SA bench is designed to compliment their Big 3 and make a living off of TD’s passes. It will be important when our reserves play theirs, that Lakers go on some scoring runs (7-0, 8-2, 11-3) and help out the starters in dealing with the big 3.

    I have mentioned couple of times, but will say it again. Tony Parker could destroy us. D-Fish played great against D-Will, but does not have the legs to stay in front of Tony (then again who does? :) ) I expect a lot more of Sasha and Ariza guarding the French dude.

    I think TP is the only real trouble for us. As good as TD/Manu are Pau/Kobe will certainly neutralize their production and SA has no answer for LO, who will have to be at his best against them.

    I hope Phil punishes Pop with Pop’s own tactics. Why do we have Mihm and Mbenga on the floor. I know they are good dudes, but they do not contribute. We should at least take advantage of the 12 fouls they can provide us with. And banging up Duncan by fouling him hard might disrupt his flow. Also he is a very streaky FT shooter and if they are not going down, we foul more.

    I am not concerned about Oberto, because that dude seems like he is waiting for something/someone all the time. And SA can not afford to put Kurt in, because he is a few steps behind Lamar. We should exploit their PF position (assuming TD plays C) as much as we can and force Oberto/Thomas into turnovers.

    Radmanovic/Sasha/Walton/Farmar will be important for us and we need that quartet to average at least 25-30 pts and 18-20 Rebounds per game. I do not think these numbers are other-worldly. 3-pointers will be very important for us. Even if Kobe-Pau-LO game is not going, you know they will get at least 4 guys to defend them 3, that leaves at least one of our shooters wide open, and then it all really comes down to how good our bench really is

    Pau Gasol will need to irritate Tim Duncan by drawing him away from the basket so our drivers can get inside without the fear of getting swatted away. Eventhough Pay does nto have much of the away-from the painted area game, he can still shoot 15-footers (similar to Turiaf) Making those jumpers will be important.

    I expect LO to go up for some really sick numbers, i.e. 20-15-7 type of games that he was used to before. I think he is the best player for our triangle offense and he will need to stay focused and not try to disappear.

    Derek Fisher will have to be Derek Fisher. He has history with Spurs :) and I am sure he will be asked to do it once again. In terms of secondary clutch shooting it will be Fish vs. Horry (he hit 2 big 3s last night that are worrying me) while Kobe and Many will be the primary closers for their teams.

    Kobe is everything for the Lakers as usual. I agree that Lakers should not get away from their offensive schemes and settle for isos and 1-on-1s, because that is exactly what the Spurs want from us and we can not let that happen. Kobe SHOULD only try to take over the game when there is no other hope. I know it’s personal with him and Spurs, but now is not the time to risk so much by trying to prove a personal point. And if Kobe goes solo, we are doomed. Instead of having him average 45 ppg, 5 reb, 4 ast, I would rather have him go for 23, 7,8. When kobe facilitates we become a much better team. It is true that we always have the luxury of turning to him whenever nothing goes right. So that’s good to know. It will be interesting who will Kobe guard. Putting him on Manu might not be best of ideas because two players we can not afford to lose to foul trouble are Gasol and Kobe. If Ariza is back I expect Kobe to play some PG duties while Sasha guards TP. Vujacic is the best PG defender we have in terms of speed and staying in front of people. Sasha proved many times that good things happen when he is on the floor.

    In terms of Phil vs. Pop, I think it will be fun. Pop does not have much room for innovation as he is pretty much preaching the same offense but his defensive schemes could (and will have to) be creative. On the other side, Phil is like a painting artist who has a whole array of wild colors that he can use to draw a picture. It’s good to have many colors like that. On the defense Phil will come up with some sick stuff I am sure. He always does… Too bad Bynum is out, because we could be buying brooms by now. But even without him I think we can take Spurs out in 5 games. They are definitely not better than the Jazz. Fingers crossed

  5. Better hope Pau can do a good job 1 on 1 against TImmy, cuz the Spurs prey on the double team. Timmy is usually patient when he posts up, looking to pick apart the help D, and the Spurs do a good job of making the extra pass. It was very noticeable tonight against the Hornets. If we double, the Spurs WILL get open looks. Don’t know if they’ll make the shots consistently all series, but if it comes down to a game 7, their whole team seems to make the big shots time and time again. Also want to add that the Hornets had some success with a late double on Timmy after he made his move on the block, so expect Phil and the coaching staff to have already picked up on that. I really hope what people are saying is true about Pau on Duncan, though I won’t believe till I see it. We gotta be able to play Timmy 1 on 1 on a consistent basis, or they’ll tear our D to shreds.

    Obviously, Timmy isn’t their only option. They’ll set picks for Manu and Frenchman to get an extra step on their respective defenders. From there, Ginobili is really good at setting up teammates with open looks and those teammates are good at making the extra pass. Again, it comes down to whether the role players (Udoka, Finley, Bowen, Horry) make those open shots. Parker is looking to get his own shot moreso than Manu, but he’s more than capable of finishing at the rim. If he gets to rim consistently, we’ll be in trouble cuz that’ll set up their trio of big men to crash the offensive glass. Gotta force Parker to fall back to his midrange game and hope his J is off.

    Basically, if their role players are hitting their open looks, the Spurs are pretty difficult to beat. We gotta be able to keep at least one of their Big 3 in check, to make them more dependable on those role players. Looking at their losses to Hornets:

    Game 1 Loss – Timmy with only 5 pts.
    Game 2 Loss – Frenchman has 11 on 5-14 shooting
    Game 5 loss – Timmy only has 10 on 5-18 shooting.
    Games 3,4,6 & 7 victories – Big 3 each has at least 15 points.

    And their defense is typical Spurs D: Great interior D with Duncan, Oberto and Kurt Thomas. Good help D, and good rebounding. And they don’t foul nearly as much as the Jazz do, but they complain twice as much.

    This really looks like a 7 game series, with the team whose role players step up looking like the team that plays Detroit in the Finals. I haven’t mentioned Kobe all post, so let me remind everyone that we have the best player on the planet. Mamba hates to lose. Lakers in 7.

  6. “Some say that dates all the way back to the 2004 Olympics when Gasol dominated Duncan”

    FIBA basketball is played a very different way, specially at the 4-5 spot. That said, Pau is the BEST FIBA center and probably the best FIBA player nowadays because of the game knowledge, reading the game and taking advantage of FIBA rules (less permisive with contact, can touch the ball over the rim cilinder if the ball is going up or both attaking/defending Zone system…) its not fair to use Gasol dominance in FIBA basketball now that we are talking NBA.

    Give Duncan the credit while playing for the ring. We’ll have this discusion again un a couple months about Gasol-Howard center matchup (just be pacient).

    That said, its true that Gasol plays much better against high profile players like Duncan, Howard, Boozer or Yao rather than bulky centers who outmuscle him. The ones causing him problems have been Chandler, Dampier, Okur (when charging offensive rebound and pushing him hard). Expect a big (and effective) effort from my hometown boy.

  7. One more thing to add to the Gasol-Duncan matchup: this is the 1st time all playoffs that we’re facing a legitimate post/interior threat. Our D has been solid all playoffs, but a player of Duncan’s caliber will really expose a team’s holes on D. Lakers D has the length to bother the Boozers and Okurs and Kenyons (and maybe even the Tony Parkers), but now we’re facing size and skill in the post.

  8. Boozer didn’t have size or skill?

  9. Aaron: Boozer is 6’8″/6’9″ and has trouble with long , athletic people. Besides he had Okur ranging around like LO (not as talented, obviously).

  10. i predict that kobe bryant will not be slowed by bowen this series as he has been in the past. The lakers have just to many options in the offense for bowen to key in on home and play him straight up. You will see kobe go off this round as he did against spurs back in 2001-2.

  11. going thru the defending champs…i like it. i’ll have to agree w/mando @ 6, but i will also throw this out there….whenever udoka is in the game, the lakers need to pay attention, especially if it is a tight game. he loves to get that key offensive board or sneak away to an open spot for a good look. he seems to always play above himself against the lakers, ugh!…..i think fresh legs are going to loom large in this series…….

  12. Once again, the X-factor of the series for us will be LO. His athleticism and length is something SA doesn’t have any answer for, if he chooses to play aggressive and smart. If LO bypasses wide open jump shots which SA will give to him and drives with the ball or dive when Pau or Kobe has the ball, he’ll get some easy baskets that will demoralize SA’s D. Most likely, Oberto, Horry, or Tim Thomas will check him. How can you not like this matchup? All three of them are great at guarding the rim, but not at keeping up with fleet of feet moving forward like LO.

    On defense, Pau will hold his own. I don’t think he’ll own TD, as some have suggested based on international play, but he won’t let TD go off for 30 and 18. PJ won’t let that happen. He’d rather have Parker or Ginobili get 30, but not TD. We’ve known from past serieses with them that when TD is not clicking, SA can’t win. When SA has the ball, they do represent very similar offensive philosophy except that it’s more stationary than the Laker offense. They feed the post to TD and try to get the spot up 3s. Or they’ll go P&R with Parker/TD and get the floater or easy jumper from either of them. If all else fails, they give to Ginobili to create something from nothing with clock running down. I think the key is to not give them all three options. That means don’t let them get into offense early. We need to pressure in the back court, so that they’ll initiate offense in 14-16 second range, rather than 18-20 second range. That will allow them to give less chances to TD. Duncan is truly a great faciliatator of offense as a forward because he’s so unselfish. He wants to let other players touch the ball before he makes his post moves, very similar to Gasol. Most likely, then, our D will have to deal with P&R and penetration by Ginobili. That’s where my biggest worry comes. Will Parker hit those open 18 footers? Will Ginobili hit enough 3s to make our perimeter defenders to play tight, which will open lanes. I hope PJ will drill Fisher, Sasha, Kobe, and maybe Ariza to force him to right. He won’t have the rim to protect the ball from getting blocked, so our bigs can help more effectively.

    Finally, I know that Bowen can’t guard Kobe, not one on one, without resorting to dirty tactics. What I’m concerned is that Kobe can get into this “You can’t guard me, and I’m going to show you by scoring everytime” mode. He did it a little against dENVER against Martin, jacking up bad shots after bad shots. If Kobe doesn’t let Bowen get to him (which I think he will this time) and play the way he’s been playing, meaning making plays for his teammates. We can dominate and win easily because SA won’t be able to keep up with us offensively UNLESS Bowen, Udoka, Finley, and Horry hit 3s at a rate of 40% or better.

    I was initially afraid of SA (still am a little), but we need this series to prepare for DET or BOS (I aqree with Kurt, DET seems poised to face us this time). But I think this is the best possible scenario for us to defeat these teams in order. I’m predicting the Lakers in 5 or 6. If we take the first 2 (5), If we split, then 6. We can win in SA and should be able to do at least once if not twice. I think the home court will matter less in WCF because both teams know how to win tough games on the road.

  13. I wanted to comment specifically on the Kobe-Bowen matchup and point out that Kobe may have more of an edge there than people might think, and I’m using the 2004 semifinals matchup against the Spurs as evidence. Back in that series Bowen was almost 33 years old and was the Spurs’ starter at the 3, playing the exact same role he plays for them now. Heading into that matchup a lot was made of how Bowen could slow down Kobe, just as people are prone to do nowadays. However, in that particular series a rather odd thing happened: Popovich began sitting Bowen in favor of reserve Devin Brown, and was with Bowen never being in foul trouble (the most fouls he had in any one game was 4, once, and he only averaged 2 fouls per game). Bowen saw his minutes go from 32 & 33 in Games 1 & 2 to only 28, 23, 28 and 25 in Games 3-6.

    Now Bowen is almost 37, so I can’t help but wonder if Popovich will once again find himself sitting Bowen a lot in these games. After all, he’s already shown in the first two rounds that he will sit Bowen if his team starts to get behind. Bowen only averaged 21 minutes/game in the first round against Phoenix, although he did average 32 mpg in this 2nd round against NO. It should be noted though that while Bowen chased Nash around in the 1st round (in limited minutes), he was pulled off of Paul in the 2nd round after getting destroyed by him, and instead was just guarding the much more traditional Peja Stojakovic. Despite his making the 1st Team All Defensive unit again this year, I have serious doubts about his ability to stay with Kobe for a 7 game series, especially since he essentially proved he couldn’t do it four years ago.

  14. The Dude Abides May 20, 2008 at 8:51 am

    I predict that the Spurs bigs won’t be able to match up with LO, so Pop will stick Udoka on him whenever he can. I don’t know effective Udoka will be, but I think he will be better than the bigs at staying with LO. I also agree that Pau and LO have to get out on the break at every opportunity, so it’s important that we clean the defensive glass. I think SA pushes off on rebounds less than Utah, so hopefully this won’t be as much of a problem as it was against the Jazz.

  15. Warren Wee Lim May 20, 2008 at 9:02 am

    pb, I believe that’s Kurt Thomas. Tim Thomas plays for the Clippers. Unless you know a trade that I don’t ;)

  16. Let’s face it, TD will get around 25 ppg, easy. Pau is good, but not in TD’s class. And we can not afford to get killed from beyond the arc by doubling Timmy. He has a sweet outside bankshot and he can take players one-on-one, but, if you noticed, he gets irritated from having to score all the time, espcially against the tall defenders. So he starts missing down the stretch. I think that will work in our favor. And for god’s sake, do not put Ronny on Duncan. Ronny is a beast in terms of energy and heart, but he gives up a lot of heigh to TD and is known to get into stupid fouls. And if there is one big in this league who knows how to get opposition into foul trouble, it’s TD.

    On the other hand, outside of Kobe and LO, we also have something that Spurs will continuously struggle to cope with, fast break! We should run at them at all times. Tony Parker does not like to recover on transition D and he is their fastest guy. The others are committed, but (with the exception of Manu) too old to run with our kids. If we execute fast break like 10-15 times per game (which requires us forcing them into turnovers) we will end up facing guys like Matt Bonner and Brent Barry, because Oberto and Finley will be out of steam. I would rather play those guys to be honest…

    I hate to say this, but we do not need a PG in this series. Fish is the brain and trust of our team and he comes up the hugest when we need him, but he is not suited for a series against SA (NOT ANYMORE! :( ), so perhaps we should throw a line-up of Kobe, Sasha, Ariza, LO, Pau out there pretty often. That team can lock down anyone defensively, run anyone out of the gym and not let anyone kill us on the boards. Sasha guards the Frenchman, Kobe guards Bowen, Aiza guards Ginobili, LO on Oberto/Thomas and Pau against TD. Fisher plays crucial 20 minutes per game at the beginning and end of games ( hopefully he will stay in the rhythm). I do not expect Farmar, Walton and Radman to contribute too much. They are defensive liabilities and we can not give SA any easy looks to score.

  17. Actually, we did have Gasol for the April game against the Spurs. He played Duncan beautifully on defense — using his length to force Duncan into contested 7-10 foot shots. Duncan finished 6-19 from the field. Gasol also struggled on offense, but his defense was key to disrupting the Spurs flow and helping LA to an easy win. If I were Phil, I’d try to play Gasol straight up on Duncan and force Duncan to become a scorer. If he starts getting lots of easy looks at the rim or puts Pau in foul trouble, then we can change it up. But I think Gasol can do a pretty good job of making Duncan catch the ball 15 feet from the basket and take a difficult shot.

  18. The main key to this series will be tempo. If the Lakers can create some turnovers and push the tempo and get the scoring to 100+ then they should win the series in 5 or 6. If they can’t and the games remain in the 80 to 90’s then it will be 7 games and I would give the advantage to the spurs. Pau/LO/Turiaf should be able to beat, Thomas, Oberto and Duncan down the court and get easier baskets then having to go up against the set SA defense.

    The other thing will be 3 pt shooting. The team that wins the 3 pt shooting will probably win most games in this series.

    One last thing is I expect a lot of LO. They do not have anyone that can match is quickness and handle on the outside. Expect a lot of Pau/Kobe in the post passing to a cutting Odom.

    Should be a good series I can’t wait. Don’t forget we have Fisher who has a history of killing the Spurs. We all remember the .4 second shot, but in 2002 he when 15-20 from the 3 pt line when the Lakers swept them.

  19. 17. Reed, the point in the post is now corrected. I should have caught it then since I contradict myself later in the same post, but these things happen at 12:30 a.m.

    Also, in case you didn’t see the update, KD at Ball Don’t Lie tackled the Gasol/Duncan thing before:

    http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/blog/ball_dont_lie/post/Not-so-fast-anonymous-executive-who-misses-Pau-?urn=nba,71558

  20. if i were to pick a poison, i’d like to see duncan starting on the low block…..that way the lane will be more congested and tony parker will have a tougher time getting to the rack…..if they start running the high pick and roll w/duncan and parker, pau’s hedge will have to be strong and if parker penetrates (which we all know he will) the lakers’ rotations will have to be crisp to avoid having somebody like oberto, bowen, or udoka killing us with timely baskets or offensive rebounds after playing 20-22 seconds of sound defense……..if duncan starts on that low block, i like pau’s length to bother duncan. he’s got quick enough feet to stay in front of him and make him a jump shooter……

  21. Re: Tempo. It is far easier said then done to just push the tempo on the Spurs. First, they don’t turn the ball over much. When they shoot they crash the offensive glass hard, so it’s hard to just run guys out, you need bodies on the boards. Finally, they do what they do and will not get sucked into your game. That said, the Lakers need to push it when they can, they just can’t do it at the expense of good decisions, meaning no Sasha threes five seconds into the clock.

    On a different topic, anybody rooting for any team in particular in the lottery tonight?

  22. One additional thing I do have confidence in is that PJ and staff and even the team by itself will be better than the Hornets in game 7 at recognizing where to attack the Spurs. In the 4th quarter the Hornets resortet to jumper after jumper with Duncan saddled with 4 fouls. With around 4:30 left, Pargo (by accident more than design) put the 5th foul on Duncan but the Hornets never attacked TD even once after that.

    Chandler and West certainly aren’t great in the low post, but I think you’d at least have to try to foul Duncan out, no?

  23. 21 I’d like to see NY get the #1 pick, just to see what D’antoni can do with Rose at the point. As much as I dislike D’antoni I think Rose fits his system well and it is fun to watch.

  24. RE Defending Duncan: Phil hates to double team, so even if Duncan demolishes Pau/Turiaf/Mbenga, I don’t think Phil changes his strategy. If we, the fans, know that the Spurs offense is dictated off double teams and taking advantage of defensive rotations with 3 pointers and slashing drives off kickouts, then the staff knows it too and is going to try and take that away. Make Duncan get 40 to beat you and try to contain Manu and Parker to totals below their averages. Stick to the role players and try to take away what they do best….run Bowen off the corner 3, crowd Finley and make him beat you off the dribble, make Oberto a scorer by taking away his passing lanes from the high post.

    RE Bowen: If I recall correctly, in at least one of those games (for sure in one of the Spurs’ wins) Udoka played almost exclusively in crunch time over Bowen. Granted, that had as much to do wiht Udoka’s ability to knock down the mid-range jumper as his ability to play hardnosed defense, but still he was in there late. So, like WildYams alluded to in post #13, I think that if Kobe is successful, we’ll see less of Bowen and more Udoka. I also think this is a series that Barry will get more burn, if he’s truly healthy.

    RE Odom: I agree that Odom is the one guy that has an advantage over whoever tries to guard him. If they put Oberto or Thomas on him, he can take them off the dribble in a similar manner to what he did to Okur/Boozer. If they go small and put Udoka/Bowen on him, he should go into the post more and crash the offensive glass hard. We will need production from Odom, but as history has proven in the playoffs, we can count on him to play well.

    My biggest concern in this series are how to handle the penetration of Parker and Ginobili. If we can turn them into jumpshooters (much harder against Manu) then I think we will control the series. If they live in the lane, we will lose. It was pointed out in one of the comments that Parker has greatly improved his jumper, which is true, but I still think he feeds off his drives. When he can easily beat his man off the dribble, it feeds his confidence and his jumper is much more reliable (in this way, I think he’s like Lebron…make him *think* about the jumper and he starts to miss. Let him decide when the jumper comes and the confidence is there.) I think that when they go to their screen/roll sets we need to go under the screen every time and make Parker beat us with the jumpshot. If he makes 10-15 jumpers in a game, tip your hat, and try the same thing the next game. He is a guard that can shoot 50% when he’s getting a bunch of layups, but I’d make him prove he can shoot close to that % when he is primarily shooting jumpers.

    Ultimately, I think our athleticism + our skill + our execution will override their skill + their execution. It will be hard fought, but I think we have the better team. We’ll see…

  25. Looks like the Spurs’ airline is stacked with Laker fans:

    http://myespn.go.com/blogs/truehoop/0-32-211/Tough-Night-on-the-Plane-for-the-Spurs.html

    My prediction for this series: The Lakers will be killed on the boards.

  26. Agree with Darius. Single Duncan most of the time, go under the P&R’s on Parker and dare him to shoot (but definately don’t go under on Ginobili), and close out on 3 pt shooters and make them put the ball on the court. All easier said than done.

    And yeah, everyone has been pointing it out and I just thought about it, Odom is a matchup nightmare for them…

  27. The spurs just had 2 monumental battles with Phoniex and New Orleans…

    plus…
    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=3405018

    I think they will be tired from the get go in this series…

  28. Lamar Odom will be the key to the series. He’s been the key to the Lakers success so far in the playoffs. It’s obvious teams don’t game plan for him, and he’s been totally taking advantage of being the third wheel on this team now.

    Look at his playoff stats:
    http://www.nba.com/playerfile/lamar_odom/

    16 points, 11 boards, 3 assists, and 66 percent from the field from your third wheel is incredible.

  29. The Lakers have to be heavy favorites for Game 1 after the news that the Spurs had to spend the night on their Charter Jet, and did not get into LA until mid-morning and cancelled their practiced.

  30. KD’s article worries me, mainly because KD knows his stuff. I was under the impression that Pau would be able to play Duncan straight up, and judging from that article, it looks like a Pau/Duncan matchup will hurt us more than the Spurs.

    Can we force Devin Harris to grow a goatee and pass him off as Fish? That might be our best chance of slowing down TP.

  31. I understand the past historical numbers, but doesnt Gasols new team mates make things a little different. Just a thought…

  32. I think the Dwyer article is insightful, but we need to remember the context for those stats. Gasol was a far less efficient player on Memphis because he was option number 1, 2, and 3. Teams could double and collapse without great consequence. On LA, Gasol is running next to Kobe and in a system that perfectly fits his skills. Just as Duncan;s production is helped by playing next to two all star guards, Gasol will fare far better now against Duncan than he did in the past.

  33. 31 – Good point, Gasol will have an easier time getting his numbers on Duncan. But I think the more pressing concern is can he slow Duncan down 1-on-1. I don’t think that ability will change much from Memphis to LA, because we don’t want Odom helping.

    I fully expect Phil to mix it up and give Duncan different looks. He’ll probably try to play Duncan straight up initially, and possibly throw in a few blindside double teams as Bill Bridges noted earlier.

  34. The whole *Gasol plays great against Duncan* angle was talked about in a Simmons Podcast with Bucher, and that’s where KD (I believe) got the idea to write up his post. Apparently an exec from Memphis told Bucher that, historically, Pau played well against Tim, and that if they were to meet in the playoffs that Pau could handle himself well. But KD crunched the numbers and could not find the evidence the back it up. I tracked those numbers from the NBA.com stat page and found no evidence as well. The funny thing is, though, that on the Podcast, Bucher and Simmons both said they had heard the same thing in NBA circles. Kinda like an urban legend. Personally, I don’t inherently trust or distrust the stats. But, we all know that there is an element in games that is really only seen to the naked eye…it’s why scouts still have jobs. I think it will be interesting to see how Pau handles himself against Duncan. Just based off their physical attributes, Duncan should be able to out-muscle Pau, while Pau should have a quickness advantage. And while they both may be the same size, I believe Pau has a length advantage. I think it’s going to be a great matchup…

  35. We keep comparing individuals on competing teams. Haven’t we learned the lesson that teams win, not individuals (not Kobe, not Shaq, not Wilt, not MJ, not anybody). I guess it is too hard to analyze teams so we fall back on the component parts.

    As a team concept, the Odom/Gasol paring is extremely powerful in initiating the fast break. Lamar tends to hold back to get a rebound and then dribble up court – eliminating a fast break – but he does fight for the rebound and because of this often Fish or Kobe gets the board and who do they see sprinting down the center of the court – Gasol – instant points and harder on TD’s legs.

    On defense, both LO and Gasol are good help defenders. While this may slow down TP’s penetration, when both Kobe and Lamar leave their man to help, the 3pt line looks like vacant lot – except for the Spurs sitting out there. Kobe and Lamar have to work out a code so that one of them is always guarding the outside. I propose that be Kobe and let Lamar get the boards.

  36. Let me follow-up: I didn’t really throw that post out as a way to stab at a guess as to how well Pau will do in any (then-potential) postseason matchup with Duncan. I just wanted to nip what sounded wrong to me in the bud.

    As has been mentioned here, it’s a different context, a much different offense, and Pau’s teammates will play a huge role in how well he does against the Spurs. That said, it’s also up to Pau to be able to replicate the, “catch the extra pass/loose ball and go up quickly for the score” production he’s been offering since the playoffs started.

  37. lakergirl….nice post, er thought…..also, those comparisons were drawn from a series where upon duncan was at the height of his prime. he is now on the downside, still effective, but clearly not the focal point he was in ’04. pau on the other hand is on the upswing of his prime years……it will be a good match up to watch and i’m willing to bet pau plays even. what he gives away on the boards will be made up on the offensive end in the form of points and assists…

  38. You can’t conclude that Pau performs poorly against Duncan when Duncan’s teams have been significantly better over the years. Don’t worry about Pau.

  39. Duncan > Gasol

    We can only hope that Gasol can negate most of Duncan effectiveness.

    As mentioned by several commenters here, Odom is the real x-factor.

  40. How come I don’t see this board full of predictions for the lakers/spurs series? Who will win and how many games will it take? No homer predictions please. I want reasons!

  41. Re: Urban legend about Gasol vs Duncan.

    I think I helped to propogate it (although I haven’t read any where else that pointed specifically to the 2004 Olympics as the turning point.) My statement is that when Gasol and Duncan went head to head in the QF of the 2004 Olympics, Gasol just dominated him. Why do I say this. It is true and I was there in person to witness it. Live in the stadium in Athens and I couldn’t believe how much better Gasol was (at least on the day on the biggest global stage). I dug out the box score of the game for those interested….

    http://www.usabasketball.com/seniormen/2004/04_moly6_box.html

    Ever since then, I think Pau has played against Duncan with a confidence that perhaps before he didn’t have. And by the way, that atmosphere in the Olympic games was intense and I’m sure the pressure the players felt is comparable to the NBA playoffs.

    On another note. Watch for some innovative defensive schemes on both sides. I look for the Lakers to try to contest the corner 3’s. The Spurs swing the ball around the horn, passing up open wing 3’s to get the corner 3. They want you to close out the wing 3 to leave the corner open. I would suggest that instead of closing out on the man with the ball on the wing, deny the passing lane to the corner. The spurs rotate automatically, always seeming to get an open 3 from Bowen, Barry, Udoka and Finley that I wonder what they would do if this route were closed.

    As an addendum, their reliance on the corner 3 is one of the reasons the Spurs choose, on balance, to get back on transition D rather than crash the boards.

    Another observation is to note the similarity of the teams.

    1. 2 long, fundamentally sound, not the most athletic centers

    2. 2 penetrators and playmakers (Parker and Odom)

    3. 2 Versatile wing players who can score from the perimeter and on the drive.

    4. A bevy of 3 point shooters surrounding the aforementioned 6 players.

    On any given night the game might hinge on whether Finely/Bowen/Barry/Udoka are hitting more 3’s than Rad/Sasha/Fisher/Farmar. (Hence the need for creative schemes to contest their three pointers)

    I like our chances.

  42. Lakers in 6. They will continue to win at home and are good enough to steal one from the Spurs in San Antonio. Lamar Odom will have to step up and play an important role in every game. Kobe will continue to get his and either Sasha or Vlad will come through for us.

  43. 40. New around here, aren’t you? People are welcome to make predictions, but this board is usually more about strategy then predictions.

  44. Lamar must be careful about the offensive foul. I was surprised by how often Lamar was able to drive to his left against Utah (not so surprised by it against Denver), but I have to think the Spurs will make a concerted effort to either make Lamar go right, or draw him into an offensive foul. Kurt cannot stop him; it’s the secondary defenders we must be concerned about.

    Pau must regain his touch at the midrange J.

    I would not go under the screen against Parker at distances under 19 feet (top of key). Under the screen at the arc is OK.

    Hopefully, Pau can play Duncan straight up, and the Machine and Space Cadet will remember to stay with Bowen, Horry, Ginobili, Udoka, or whoever at the arc.

    I think the Lakers should take this series, but the champs are like Jake LaMotta, hard to knock out.

  45. Since I predicted the Spurs to win last night…ouch, wait…I just broke my arm patting myself on the back…now I’m in a cast and typing with one hand.

    Someone called for predictions, so I’ll stand by mine. The Spurs are tired. Especially after sleeping on the plane last night and not getting to practice today. The Lakers destroy them in 1, edge them in 2, lose in 3 badly, steal one in 4, lose in 5 close, and clinch in 6 at home. Since the Pistons and Celts are destined (doomed?) to battle it out in 7, I feel when the Lakers match up against the Pistons it’s going to be a classic series. Could you imagine SA vs. Cleveland again? My God, I’d rather watch a curling marathon. So glad that was avoided as a possibility. But musings aside, the Lakers will slide past the Pistons in 6 or 7 and we’ll get the parade in LA.

    Yes, folks, that’s a championship without Andrew Bynum. Perfect for a kid whose motivation was sometimes questioned (aka Jeremy Shockey in New York).

    I post this with confidence, but it’s all in good fun. I can’t wait to see how things unfold and I appreciate all the wonderful comments and opinions on this site. This is the only blog I look at or post on, so thanks to everyone for making it special. Go Lakers!

  46. http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/basketball/nba/specials/preview/2007/enemy.lines/lakers.html

    Just a flashback to where we were before the season, since Darius mentioned scouts ;)

    I just don’t think it’s coincidence that the Spurs kept getting killed in the 3rd quarter. They’re just too old to really get back into the game after halftime. So we have two chances per game to jump on them as a team – the first and the third, and the fourth to utilize Kobe.

    What’s troubling about the Spurs is that they have role players who don’t get rattled as much. And they happen to be 3 pt shooters. Bowen, Horry, Finley, Barry… these guys are not only too old to do more than what they’re supposed to do, but too old to really be rattled much, meaning that we can’t expect them to miss 3 pters in a row like Okur and Williams.

    I think this will be a relatively painless series if we stick to our defense(i’m mostly worried about Kobe here), but if we don’t, we’re gonna see a lot of games like Game 6 with Utah… except that the Spurs will end up taking them.

  47. # 36. Sorry for the confusion KD. I shouldn’t have put words in your mouth…

    #41. Bill Bridges, I can buy the confidence angle. I think that success in any format (be it FIBA, NBA, College, or the Rucker) can lead to a breakthrough or epiphany with a player where he/she realizes that they can play with anyone. However, that was the same summer where Duncan basically said that he’d never play FIBA ball again because of his experience with the referees. I see in that boxscore that Tim played 21minutes and had 5 fouls, while Gasol played 40 minutes. Based off that alone, it makes me think that Gasol did plenty of damage when Duncan was not in the game (though I’m sure, as you implied, that they saw plenty of court time together too). Anyways, we’ll all see on Wednesday how these guys fare against eachother…

  48. I don’t like the prediction making cottage industry. I don’t understand the point. Maybe its a way to force “experts” to prove their merit, a la the Stat Geek showdown on Truehoop. But rarely does anybody actually track the predictions to hold the predictors accountable anyways. So everybody spouts their succesful predictions while forgetting their unsuccesful ones.

    Any expert knows their stuff should know the limitations of their knowledge, upto the point of being unwilling to try to predict the future.

    Instead, present the detailed If->Then algorithm of the thing. If the Lakers can do X, their chances will improve, if the the Spurs do Y, then THEIR chances will improve. All things being equal Team A is more talented and should win, but factors B and C could tip that scale. Telling me what to watch for to understand why things are turning out the way they are is much more valuable than an empty prediction.

    Anyways, Lakers in 12.

  49. 44. I remember an interview where LO was asked about always going to the left. His answer was that opposing players have tried to make him go right ever since he was in high school but it neer really worked really well.

  50. Warren Wee Lim May 20, 2008 at 5:34 pm

    Off topic: How about that? Chicago wins the NBA lottery!

    Beasley or Rose?

    They NEED Beasley, but Derrick Rose is too good to pass up.

  51. This is crazy! The Chicago Bulls move all the way from the chalked up 9th spot to take the 1st pick! Bye bye Hinrich.

  52. I wonder if Pau’s ankle is still slowing him down. According to the LA Times, he showed up Sunday to receive treatment, and he was the only starter to do so. During the “behind the scenes” clip from the last Jazz game, Pau was shown lying down on a training table, with a trainer working on him, while Phil gave his halftime talk.

    The schedule of games every other day won’t allow him anytime time to rest up. Ronny is going to have to stay out of foul trouble and put in some important minutes.

  53. I think who you take as the Bulls depends on who you get as coach and what style you want to play. That team is loaded with young talent, whatever they do.

    Big market team gets shocking Lottery win to help speed rebuilding. That will do nothing to quiet those who think the fix is in.

  54. Warren Wee Lim May 20, 2008 at 6:47 pm

    Kurt, LOL at conspiracy theorists… the best CP (conspiracy theory) I have heard all year was that Memphis will win the lottery because they gave Pau Gasol to the Lakers. Stern is supposed to like this after the Celtics have re-surfaced from the dead. It just makes his Lakers-Celtics “dream” matchup come true easier. Look where they landed. The proverbial rock bottom of the 2 drafts 07 and 08.

  55. Warren, thanks for reading my comment. I’m getting all confused Tim Thomas and Kurt Duncan…LOL…

    Hey Warren, make sure you post 1st for the next game. I don’t believe in voodoo or jinx or other superstitions, but it doesn’t hurt, right?

    Wow, Chicago will have to take Rose and pair him up with Hinrich or Gordon, right? Then again having Beasley would be awful nice. Noah, Beasley, and Deng would be a pretty awesome, athletic frontline with Tyrus Thomas backing them up.

  56. The Dude Abides May 20, 2008 at 7:20 pm

    I have unearthed a photo of the pilot of the San Antonio charter plane that was stuck on the tarmac in New Orleans for eleven hours overnight:
    http://tinyurl.com/454r97

    It has been reported that the plane had a mechanical problem, but in actuality, it was merely a persistent warning light on the dashboard. Fortunately, the two new mechanics of the charter airline, who recently left their previous job as Denver Nugget bus drivers, were on the scene…and it only took them eleven hours to fix the problem. Photograph below:
    http://www.leerburg.com/Photos/line-breeding.jpg

  57. Warren Wee Lim May 20, 2008 at 7:37 pm

    I see you have been paying attention to our own superstition here pb. I am keeping other charms too aside from being the very 1st poster of the gameday chat. I will let you in on a few of them… (defense, passing, choice shots).

  58. laughing hard May 20, 2008 at 7:54 pm

    Pictures from the Lakers’ team dinner (where Kobe handed out the $10,000 watches):

    https://www.kb24.com/news/article/641.html

    Sasha Vujacic wears Gap shirts! =)

  59. laughing hard May 20, 2008 at 8:06 pm

    Sorry about the double post — the NY Times ran a profile of Lamar Odom.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/20/sports/basketball/20odom.html?ref=sports

  60. Warren Wee Lim May 20, 2008 at 8:42 pm

    Wow dude abides… they should get you for the brand new tv series CSI: LA ;)

  61. KD — I would be very happy if you joined us more often…

  62. Responding to the aggressively worded comment from earlier about the lack of predictions, i do think that is an interesting phenomenon. The visitors of this site made quite a few predictions about the previous two series but we’ve been reluctant to make any sort of discussion about predictions.

    Much like the teams themselves, I think we’ve become more aware of the difficulty in getting any wins, and we’re just focusing on game 1 right now. Playing consistently quarter to quarter is how the Lakers will get through this series. The series cannot be one in one game or even two games alone.

    I make no predictions for fear of any sort of jinx and unmet expectations. Quarter by quarter is how I’m approaching this series.

  63. 40) I predict that the average winning percentage in this series for the Spurs and the Lakers will be .500

    And if I am wrong, I will be here after the series is over to take the criticism.

  64. Every analysis aside. I think we could win this series if we do 1 thing: stay home on the 3-point shooters (Sasha, Vlad, Luke, LO). This has notoriously killed us every playoffs (as well as the Pick n Roll, however this is more manageable and unexcusable).

    That has been our true achilles heel (or sublaxation of the patella).

  65. My prediction: Utah in 7 . . . oh wait.

  66. Hey, did Ira Newble get one? What about Mbenga or Mihm? I’m sure Kwame and Javaris are calling Kobe to see if they could at least get a Casio or Timex, right?

    Whether he gave anything to Ira or not, that’s a classy move on Kobe’s part. Not so much that he spent the money, but that he went out to get them a thoughtful personalized gift (though I’m sure his admin ast. took care of everything). I hope he keeps dishing out gifts to his teammates throughout the SA series and the Finals. I bet Lamar and Pau would appreciate sweet assists more than the watch.

  67. Can’t wait to see how the Lakers come out to play. If they bring the intensity and the Spurs can’t match I’ll be a happy man.

    On another note, isn’t D’antoni depressed that he didn’t wait on the offer from the Bulls. He could’ve had Rose to run the system and they would’ve been set for years. I’m giddy to see what he’s going to do in NY.

  68. I forget where I heard/read this about DAntoni, but it makes sense to me. He was leaving a situation where, despite winning, he was told he wasn’t wanted. He goes to Chicago and is told “we like you, but we don’t talk to coach’s agents and we need a few days to come up with an offer.” Then he goes to NY and they say “We want you, and to prove it we’re not letting you leave this room without the best offer we can put together.” How would you respond? Coaches (all of us, really) have egos and want to be wanted, and only one team showed him that passion.

  69. Prediction: Lakers in two, because who knows if the Spurs’ plane will make it back to San Anotnio.

    Forecasting aside, I think a really fun aspect of this series will be watching how the Lakers deal with the Spurs’ veteran savvy. By that I mean the little plays that Horry or Bowen or Kurt Thomas make that aren’t dirty but have that effect. I expect the Lakers to handle it well since they just dealt with possibly the definitive team when it comes to that type of physical play. The difference is that the Spurs’ personnel are older, or more savvy, heh. The Lakers got pretty good at playing through the physicality against Utah, I expect more of the same against a less athletic SA team.

    Also, does Ariza give anyrhing? How nice if he could lock up Manu for a bit…

  70. A few of my thoughts on the Spurs before tomorrow’s game:

    1. Ime Udoka is a very strong defender and will not allow Lamar to bully and back him down in the paint. This is why Lamar should not be one-dimensional in just posting-up, but rather play the same as if Oberto or Duncan is guarding him : cutting and slashing.

    2. I disagree that the Lakers’ players from 4-10 are better than that of the Spurs’. Robert Horry, Bowen, Thomas, Finley, and Udoka. Jeez, how much playoff and championship experience is in that group? And it’s not like they are on the decline, either. That is why I believe the Spurs have a major advantage in the match up of role players.

    3. This Spurs team is full of savvy and poise. If the game is close in the last 3 minutes, I expect the Spurs to win 4 out of 5 times. That is why we need to come out strong and build a big enough lead so that we can hang on in the 4th quarter.

    4. Play good defense and please rebound so we can get out in transition. The Spurs are full of experience, but they do have a lot of mileage on their legs. Jordan, I’m specifically asking you to regain your confidence and push the ball so we can get easy baskets.

  71. wow, nice watch. wonder if it has another meaning, like, ‘be on the same page’ or ‘operate like clockwork’ or just ‘don’t be late to practice’ ;)

  72. 47. Gasol was the reason Duncan got into foul trouble. Duncan’s problem with Fiba is that they actually call the fouls that he gets away with in the NBA. Poor Timmy they didn’t let him win and took his marbles and went home.

  73. I think this series will have a lot of similarities to the Lakers-Jazz series. Lakers take the first two at home, and it looks easy: the Spurs are tired, don’t have much time to adjust, and are smart enough not to worry if they don’t win the first two. Third and fourth games, Pop starts making adjustments, SA shots start falling. Lakers might steal a game, but probably just keep it close with the Spurs hitting their shots down the stretch. 2-2. Fifth game PJ works his magic, and the Lakers win strong. Sixth game depends on how tired the Spurs are, but I think the Lakers can close it out.

    All clever analysis goes out the window if there’s a major injury, and I think there are a lot of fragile players in this series (a combination of a long, tough playoff race and some late-season injuries).

  74. 71…. I thought the same, but my interpretation of it was that the watch meant, my prime is going to be over soon as I am 30, so you better win now.

  75. I’m pretty sure Kobe didn’t pay for those watches, or he got a significant discount on them. If you look at his website, there’s a press release type blurb about the watch company below the write up on the presentation of the watches. This obviously was a collaboration between Kobe and the watch co. The publicity they got from the Kobe story would be worth way more than $150K, so I’m sure they were more than willing to give those watches to him for free. They might have even paid Kobe on top of giving the watches to him for free because of the publicity they get from being attached to him.

  76. 74 – i was gonna write that too, but sorta refrained from it since the PR policy is different from maker to maker, and it is also quite likely that Kobe had to pay for those watches (although defninitely not at street price – bulk discount, if anything ;) ).

    Besides the blurb didn’t really say that Kobe was their official model or something, just that he posed for one photo (if memory serves…) so to say all of it was sponsored… possible, yes, likely, maybe, fact, no.

  77. Big Game 1. I hope that momentu, is on our side. After watching DET-BOS last night, and seeing how rusty the Pistons were, may be it’s not good to have too much rest in the playoffs unless you have injuries.

    But we do have injuries, and the most important one is that of Kobe. I am sure he will be at his best against the Spurs in game 1.

    I am counting on the crowd support too. We have to start learning from Utah fans and make ridiculously deafening noises. Not that it would change too much against an experienced team like the Spurs that has seen/heard its share of loud and hostile crowds, but our cheers will definitely pump up our guys and perhaps intimidate the referees a bit. Marc Stein makes a good point that referees are human and sometimes get influenced by the crowd.

    I personally think that SA consumed up everything it had left in the tank against NO. I am not saying it will be a sweep (it sure would if Bynum was around) but I do not think it will go into game 7 either. The tricky part about this matchup is that both teams can outperform their opponents on the road. I hope it will be LA in these series.

    In terms of strategy, I expect Lakers to come out strong from the beginning. They will try to run over the Spurs and get an early lead. It is important to do so, considering that Spurs have only few good players that get worn down towards the end of games. Both teams will try to build an early lead and defend it from then on, by preventing an opponent to go on big runs. I think LA takes Game 1. Spurs do not really know how well we play. It’s the first game and they have no time for adjustments. For us, the situation is different, SA pretty much plays the same basketball against every opponent.

  78. Whoa! I still feel like I’m in a dream… Lakers in the WCF… who would have thought after all the trouble Kobe and management had before the season, the mediocre start, the ultra-strong western conference.. who would have thought.. But they are here, and as Phil always says… Live in the moment!

    Looking on to this series, here are my thoughts:

    1) Fish should try and contain parker. can’t expect to stop him, but at least limit his effectiveness

    2) Pau and turiaf should and would have to do single cover on Duncan. The SA offense starts when someone doubles TD. This will somewhat stymie their ball rotation.

    3) Kobe should guard Ginobili rather than Bowen. Kobe is a better defender on the ball and on denial. If he has a shooter or a non-primary scoring threat, he usually roams and sags off, which spells trouble for a guy like Bowen. Let radmanovic/walton/Ariza guard bowen, as he is only a one trick pony on offense

    4) Lamar should be given more touches and more opportunities to break down his man on the post or off the dribble penetration. He will most likely be guarded by Oberto or Horry. Should be easy picking for him

    5) Pau should try and make duncan work both ways, maybe get him into early foul trouble or at least tire him out a little

    This is the big test for the young Lakers. Its like the young Bulls of Phil trying to get over the veteran Pistons team of Isaiah and co. I hope we get it on the first try!

  79. 70) “Robert Horry, Bowen, Thomas, Finley, and Udoka … And it’s not like they are on the decline, either”

    As a group, they absolutely are on the decline! Compare any of them, except for Udoka, with how they were playing 2-3 years ago.

  80. No Bynum at the Dinner? Must’ve been doing the whole “preparing for surgery” thing.

  81. #72. Bill Bridges, you know after I wrote that, I thought about it and came to the same conclusion…it was probably Pau that contributed to Duncan’s foul trouble. Very good point on your part.

  82. Let’s get it on!!!!!!!!!!!
    Tonight is round 1 in a heavyweight fight for sure. Game 1 is a must for the Lake Show. Look for Kobe to come out aggressive now that his back is feeling better.

    As long as the Lakers can keep doing a good job with their ball movement, i dont see any reason why it shouldnt end with the Lakers advancing to the Finals. Ball movement is key for the Lakers…..especially against another physical, yet more disciplined and savvy team.

    Prediction for tonights game:
    Lakers 98
    Spurs 94

    Mark it down, put it on the board.

    PS. I’m excited to see Ariza play. I expect to see him for apprx 10-13 minutes in tonights game.

  83. I love this site. You guys do a great job in breaking down strategy and taking one game at a time instead of just making frivolous predictions. Keep up the good work! Go Lakers!

  84. i guess hollinger and kubatko both agree with lakers’ announcer mychal thompson….he predicts the series to only go 5 also……while i like their enthusiasm, i’m a bit more reserved and will go with lakeshow in 6……fresh legs will be served in the form of a changing of the western conference guard……..

  85. Keys to a Laker W:

    Offense:
    1) Run Gasol at the high post. Make Duncan defend the 15 footer and erase him from the boards and help defense. This is how the Lakers won in 2002. Shaq at the high post. Remember?

    2) Take advantage of the Odom mismatch. Oberto/Thomas cannot hang. Udoka not big enough.

    3) Push the ball. The Spurs cannot beat you with defense if they never get “set.” The PGs need to push and not slow the rhythm. I am calling you out Farmar. Do not give up the dribble and pass-off. If you get double-teamed, pass off to another Laker and dive toward the bucket.

    Defense:
    1) Block the passing lanes from the post. Duncan is the 2nd best passer from the post. Do what you did last time you met to disrupt the offense.

    2) Rebound. Their bigs are fundamentally sound when rebounding. Everyone, everyone, needs to body up and box out.

    3) Keep Ginobili and Parker in front of you and give up the 20 footer. Do not let them drive the lane and pick you apart.

    4) Be vocal on defense. Expect to get screened and call out the defense. Especially you Farmar. You are the PG and are designated a floor leader. Lead by example. You will also be out there with the majority of the second unit, which makes it more important to provide clear directions.

  86. Game Day Chat post up