The Spurs won the season series with the Lakers 2-1, but the overall scoring margin was a dead heat.
More importantly, the Lakers just defeated San Antonio last weekend and did so in their current state, i.e. without Kobe Bryant.
It may seem like the Spurs, losers of seven of their last 10, wilted down the stretch but head coach Gregg Popovich is wise enough to value the health of his team over their playoff seed.
Here are the relevant numbers for the season:
Offensive Efficiency: Lakers - 8th, Spurs - 7th
Defensive Efficiency: Lakers - T-18th, Spurs - T-3rd
Effective Field Goal Percentage: Lakers - 9th, Spurs - 2nd
Rebound Rate: Lakers - T-8th, Spurs - 19th
Assist Rate: Lakers - T-18th, Spurs - 1st
Turnover Rate: Lakers - T-16th, Spurs - T-16th
Free-Throw Percentage: Lakers - 30th, Spurs - 3rd
As you can see, the Spurs have the edge in just about everything except rebounding. But if you break rebounds down further into the offensive and defensive varieties, you find that the Spurs covet defensive boards and are actually tied for third in the league in defensive rebound rate, better than the Lakers' rank of 10th in that category.
I included the free-throw percentage category to highlight the danger faced by the Lakers should the game come down to crucial freebies in crunch time.
The discrepancy in free-throw accuracy is exaggerated even more when you factor in the absences of Bryant and Nash. L.A.'s top two foul shooters in their absence, Jodie Meeks and Steve Blake, combined to attempt just 118 free-throws on the season heading into the finale.
Dwight Howard attempted about one-third of that number in a single game.
The numbers may predict an easy Spurs conquest, but savvy basketball aficionados know that the playoffs are all about the matchups.