Odds LA Lakers Claw Their Way out of 2-0 Hole vs. San Antonio Spurs

Grant HughesNational NBA Featured ColumnistApril 26, 2013

SAN ANTONIO, TX - APRIL 21:  Dwight Howard #12 and Pau Gasol #16 of the Los Angeles Lakers react to a call against the San Antonio Spurs during Game One of the Western Conference Quarterfinals of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at  at AT&T Center on April 21, 2013 in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Down 2-0 to a healthy, championship-caliber San Antonio Spurs team, the Los Angeles Lakers are facing some pretty long odds as they try to make a series of their first-round matchup.

Things didn't always seem so grim, though.

Coming into the postseason, the Lakers appeared to have a decent shot at a Round 1 upset. After all, they'd notched eight victories in their final nine games, and even knocked off the Spurs themselves in the second-to-last game of the regular season.

Sure, the loss of Kobe Bryant to a torn Achilles put a damper on a strong finish, but that win over San Antonio did come without No. 24, and L.A. had appeared to stumble onto a new identity in the absence of its iconic star.

Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard, both suddenly healthy at the same time, gave L.A. a devastatingly effective interior tandem. Gasol functioned expertly as the team's facilitator, averaging a whopping 6.6 assists per game in April.

Plus, Howard's back finally looked good. His lift had returned, and he was reaping the benefits of Gasol's unselfish setups.

For all that, though, it never appeared that the Lakers had more than a puncher's chance against a deeper Spurs team that was getting healthy at the right time.

The lack of Bryant and Steve Nash's reduced effectiveness meant that the Lakers were entering a difficult series, with a thin roster that had been pushed to the limit just to make the postseason.

And now, the injuries have continued to pile up.

Steve Blake's hamstring and Jodie Meeks' ankle could keep them both out for the foreseeable future, which means L.A.'s backups in the backcourt now share something with the team's starters: They're injured.

Plus, without any real perimeter threats (aside from a clearly hobbled and barely effective Nash), the Lakers don't have enough offensive balance to make the Spurs nervous about packing the paint. If Howard wants to kick the ball out to Chris Duhon (who, by the way, has a maddening habit of spotting up about 35 feet away from the basket), so be it.

San Antonio's defensive priorities are ridiculously simple now. All the Spurs have to do is collapse on Gasol and Howard whenever they touch the ball and wait for the bricks to carom off of the rim when L.A.'s "shooters" fire away on kick-out passes.

The Lakers have hit just 11-of-37 from long range in the series so far, and it's safe to assume that the losses of Meeks and Blake won't help that accuracy rate.


Plus, the mash unit comprising L.A.'s backcourt is about as dangerous a combination of "inexperienced" and "ineffective" as you'll find. D-Leaguer Andrew Goudelock is likely to start at the 2, while Chris Duhon and Darius Morris will take turns bumbling around in the point guard slot.

Oh, and it's probably appropriate to mention here that the Lakers have struggled with turnovers against the Spurs' precision defense, too. In Games 1 and 2, L.A. gave the ball away a total of 31 times.

With a patchwork backcourt primed to play big minutes, the Lakers might soon become even more generous in the giveaway department.

Look, the Lakers are up against a team that is deeper, better-coached, much healthier and flat-out better. Nothing's over until it's over, but this series is as close to done as it can be at this juncture.

L.A. probably has its best chance to snag a win in its first home game tonight, but history doesn't favor their chances, even if that happens.

According to ESPN.com, the the past doesn't provide much hope for teams in the Lakers' situation:

Entering this postseason, there have been 248 instances of a team losing the first 2 games of a best-of-7 series in NBA history. Only 15 of those teams came back to win the series (6 percent). No team in NBA history has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a playoff series (103 instances entering this postseason).

It's hard to find a reason to give the Lakers a better chance than the six-percent history tells us they've got. In fact, the team's injuries and lack of depth probably means their odds are even worse than the other 248 teams to have fallen into an 0-2 hole.

In the interest of avoiding an arbitrary number, let's give L.A. a somewhat historically supported five-percent chance to claw back from their current playoff hole.

Considering how hopeless the team has looked so far, though, even that number might be a little generous.