Game-by-Game Predictions for LA Lakers' Series with San Antonio Spurs
It's official. The Los Angeles Lakers have gained the seventh seed in the Western Conference and are set to meet the second-seeded San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs. Basketball fans, regardless of what team they associate with, should relish this matchup—this pairing is something that we only see in conference semi-final or final matches. To see these two juggernauts go at it this early is a gift from the basketball gods themselves.
But now, the all-elusive question is asked: who will win? A team that, despite its aging roster, continues to produce and silence critics everywhere? Or the team that has endured a roller coaster of a season, complete with high-caliber drama?
The Spurs are hotter than they've been in recent memory. They've seemed to have found the ideal combination of senior leadership and young, hungry talent. The Lakers have gained some serious momentum as of late but have experienced an enormous setback in losing Kobe Bryant due to an injured Achilles tendon.
This is anyone's series, and it can turn out in any way imaginable. This is just one of many scenarios that can take place in the next few days.
Game 1: Lakers 95, Spurs 90
The Lakers will be going into game one hotter than they've been all season. Coming off of a spectacular performance from Steve Blake, in which he officially established himself as the White Mamba, and Pau Gasol's unexpected triple-double, LA will be taking its momentum into a highly-anticipated scoring duel.
Blake should remain in the starting role and it should come as no surprise if this hot streak that he's on only gets hotter.
San Antonio will try to find an answer to this scoring surge but it will come too little, too late. Expect to see an intense back-and-forth scoring matchup set to go down to the wire.
Game 2: Spurs 108, Lakers 96
The Spurs will finally find an answer to LA's recent scoring streak and will put up a fight on both ends that should be full of surprises. San Antonio has always been known for quickly adapting to their opponent during a playoff series, and this should prove no different.
In addition, the recent acquisition of Tracy McGrady can prove to be an X-factor. It's no secret that McGrady has never won a playoff series, but you know what they say: there's a first time for everything.
Expect McGrady to have an impressive performance in game two. Who knows? Age has proven to be no issue for this team. Maybe this is no exception.
Game 3: Lakers 89, Spurs 86
The ping-pong match continues. LA will find an answer for the Spurs dominance in the form of stronger defense. Despite the fact that Tim Duncan has been a premier forward/center in the league for the past few years, he may have finally found his match in the form of Dwight Howard.
Howard has finally found his niche in the Lakers' system and has proven to be quite the threat on defense. D12 has finally tapped into his old ways, and he can really put a scare on the Spurs' fast-paced offense.
Expect Howard's boards and blocks to be the contributing factor in the Lakers' win in game three.
Game 4: Spurs 100, Lakers 79
Despite the Lakers putting up a fight, it will be all Spurs from here. By this point, the Spurs will have LA all figured out and the momentum will just be too much for the Lakers to handle.
The back-and-forth play will continue, as is customary in any Lakers-Spurs duel, but San Antonio will continue to do what it does best: win.
Game four will be the harbinger of things to come in the series—the Spurs will pick up the pace and finally find their groove.
Don't get it mixed up, it's going to be quite the game to watch regardless of the outcome.
Game 5: Spurs 99, Lakers 97
Every playoff series in the history of sports has that one game that serves as an example of what could have been. Game five will serve that purpose in this latest installment of this storied rivalry.
Expect the Lakers to swap leads with San Antonio constantly throughout the game, only to have the Spurs triumph in the last few minutes.
Game 6: Spurs 110, Lakers 91
The Lakers represent two extremes during postseason play: when they're leading a series, they lead it with dominance. When they're on the losing end, it never ends well.
The final game of the series will prove to be the most one-sided. The Spurs will know just what to do to close out the series, and unfortunately, it will have to happen in front of thousands of Lakers fans at the Staples Center.
LA will do what it always doe—bow out gracefully and regroup. This prediction may not be what most fans want to hear, but given each team's talent, this is a very likely outcome. Let's just hope this does not turn into a reality.