What We Learned About LA Lakers in First-Round Playoff Series

Richard Le@rle1993Contributor IIIMay 4, 2013

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 28:  Tim Duncan #21 of the San Antonio Spurs burries his head in the chest of Pau Gasol #16 of the Los Angeles Lakers in the second half during Game Four of the Western Conference Quarterfinals of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on April 28, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. The Spurs defeated the Lakers 103-82. 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 Jeff Gross/Getty Images)thx  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers' defeat at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs was not unexpected. In fact, even at full health, the Lakers would have had a hard time defeating a Spurs team that could exploit so many of the Lakers' weaknesses.

Essentially, the Lakers' main weakness for over half of a decade now has been their perimeter defense. Specifically, the Lakers have always had trouble guarding the point guard position.

Dating back to Derek Fisher's twilight years in a Lakers uniform, the Lakers have had to compensate for opposing point guards' exploitation of this weakness with strong interior defense and crisp rotations.

However, with an aging roster, the absence of Kobe Bryant and a defensive center in Dwight Howard who is just rounding back into form following back surgery, the Lakers' weakness on the perimeter was exploited again and again.

Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili combined for close to 34 points per game, with both shooting relatively close to 50 percent from the field. 

In fact, Tony Parker had no trouble slicing and dicing his way into the lane with little resistance from the perimeter.

With a gimpy Steve Nash and a defensively challenged group of role-playing point guards, the Lakers had no chance against the former Finals MVP in Parker. 

Aside from their shoddy perimeter defense, the Lakers were also unable to put up points against a very stingy San Antonio defense.

While the Spurs were able to put up over 100 points in three of their four games against the Lakers during the playoffs, the Lakers were only able to top 90 points once. 

Without Kobe Bryant, the Lakers have very little else to offer offensively, which is a far cry from the cohesive unit and offensive versatility they had during their 2009 and 2010 title runs. 

Howard isn't the post player that Andrew Bynum was, which means that they cannot rely on Howard to initiate a stagnant offense in the half-court set.

While Pau Gasol may have had the skills to do so, he never formed anywhere near the chemistry with Howard that he had with Bynum.

Though it may be hard to have two post players inhabit the paint area at once, Gasol and Howard had the potential to be what Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph are in Memphis

This twin-tower dynamic never really panned out. Although they performed well against lesser competition near the end of the season, Howard and Gasol could not generate enough offense and create for others against a contender like San Antonio.

Without Kobe Bryant to act as a conduit, the Lakers are in desperate trouble on both ends of the court.

The Lakers' perimeter defense was shoddy even with the Black Mamba. Without Bryant, the Lakers won't have a chance trying to guard the explosive guards in the league.

On offense, it is clear that Howard and Gasol need a lot of work to build cohesion, and D'Antoni and his run-and-run mentality may not be the coach to establish a system that works for both players.

With an offense that is predicated solely on Kobe Bryant and a defense that is extremely weak on the perimeter, the only real strength the Lakers can derive from their bludgeoning at the hands of the Spurs is that they are still a proficient rebounding team due to their size. 

The Spurs were able to expose the Lakers' weaknesses while also shining light on the fact that the Lakers have no real strengths on either end of the court with an aging roster that was struck down by injuries the same way the aging Celtics were.