Game One Thoughts

Kurt —  May 22, 2008

The real world is keeping me very busy today, so I’m falling back on easy (read: lazy) bullet points to organize my thoughts. Plus, I like to do whatever KD does.

• It’s great to have Kobe on your team.

• That was by far the best defense the Lakers have seen in the playoffs, and it clearly was a challenge to adjust (the Lakers averaged 117 points per 100 possessions in the playoffs, last night it was 98). The Spurs did what they do so well, turn teams into midrange jump shooters (Dean Oliver was talking about this statistically years ago) — they defend the rim with Duncan and chase guys off the three-point line. The Lakers took just 10 threes. Odom in particular seemed to have a hard time adjusting to what the Spurs were doing, but the Lakers as a unit need to be better prepared and hit those shots in game two.

• I’m curious what adjustments PJ makes for the next game — use Gasol’s mid-range game to pull Duncan away from the basket? Try to exploit a clearly-slowed Ginobili on defense? Any other thoughts?

• It really helps to have Kobe be able to take over an otherwise sluggish game.

• We said one of the big keys was whose bench and role players were going to step up. Sasha finished a game-high +25, Farmar came out of his slump and was second best at +15. Plus Turiaf, matched up on Duncan when he was in, was just -3 and made some great energy plays. That is something I hope to see every night.

• That and some Trevor Ariza on Ginobili (or Parker). I wonder if Phil is saving that card as one to play in San Antonio?

• Quick thought from Darius:

I know that SpurredOn mentioned this, and we would like to say that Spurs fans in general are making excuses, but Ginobili is not the same guy right now. He is out there on guts alone, his quick first step gone, his explosion at the rim gone. Manu is a guy that can change a game. Duncan may be their catalyst, but Manu is their game changer. I liken him to what Kobe was to us when we still had Shaq…that guy that even though you account for him, his abilities to change a game are so strong that you really can’t game plan for the dynamic that he brings. I think without him performing at least to his averages, the Spurs are going to have a tough time. (and if you read KD over at BDL, you’ll get more on Manu against the Lakers this year.

• Did I mention that having Kobe on your team can be a really, really great thing?

• For those of you (such as Reggie Miller) who think this is a deflating loss for the Spurs — do you know what team you are talking about? The team that has been counted out more times than Glass Joe only to get up and surprise people. The team that was down 2-0 to the Hornets and won the series. This team does not have four rings because it folds in the face of adversity.

• And I don’t think this series is the Spurs last chance either. We said that their weakness is their lack of depth, well next year they add Tiago Splitter to the front court and still have an improving Udoka, plus they have some cap room coming up to make another play or two. This team will not go quietly into that goodnight, not in this series or next season.

• If you want to read more good stuff, check out Hardwood Paroxysm’s recap.

• The Lakers hung in there on the boards, which is something they will have to do all series.