Advantages LA Lakers Have over the San Antonio Spurs
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The Lakers doubled the Spurs' turnovers, had 15 less fast-break points and had three three-pointers as opposed to the Spurs' seven.
However, upon closer inspection, the Lakers were within striking distance for the majority of the game before the Spurs pulled away in the fourth.
Talent-wise, without Kobe Bryant, the Lakers are going to have a hard time matching up with the combination of veteran leadership and athletic young legs the Spurs have on their team.
With Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili stepping up and doing the bulk of the scoring, the Lakers are going to have to focus on containing the paint and staying home on three-point shooters.
As Metta World Peace shows his age in terms of not being the perimeter-defending terror he used to be, it is clear that the Lakers are going to have their work cut out for them trying to contain the Spurs' big three.
The one thing that kept them in the game was their big men.
With Tim Duncan the only player in the frontcourt with the talent and skills to match up with the Lakers' twin towers, it is up to them to take advantage of mismatches and dominate.
Although the Lakers lost this game by double digits, they also gobbled up one more rebound than the Spurs did. The Lakers also outscored the Spurs in the paint by eight points, producing 40 points in the interior.
Offensively, this is the key to their success. By continuing to pound the paint, the inevitable defensive collapse upon the big men should free up the Lakers' shooters, who were not making their shots.
Steve Nash and Steve Blake combined to shoot 11-of-28 from the field while Antawn Jamison and Jodie Meeks combined to shoot 2-of-7.
While the Lakers are not the three-point shooting team the Spurs are, perimeter shooting is still one of their strengths based on the skills of their roster.
In order for the Lakers to have any chance of beating the Spurs, Howard and Gasol have to continue to dominate the paint like they've tried to do in this first game while the role players have to hit their perimeter jump shots.
Without the Black Mamba to help create shots and draw the attention from the defense, the big men are going to face a lot of double-teams, which should still allow the jump shooters to find a lot of open shots.
Also, there were a few instances in which Gasol and Howard worked a two-man pick-and-roll game and showed that they have the versatility to be a very effective tandem on offense in different ways.
This is definitely an uphill battle for the Lakers.
However, their strengths remain what they've been even before Bryant went out with an injury. Gasol and Howard together make up one of the most fearsome frontcourts in the NBA. Couple that with a lot of perimeter shooters, and the Lakers should have an inside-out offense that is ultimately their greatest strength.
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