Now that the San Antonio Spurs have finished off the New Orleans Hornets, it's hard not to look ahead to their next series with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Tim Duncan and the rest of the Spurs won when they needed to and have the most playoff experience of any team left. On the other, hand Kobe and company desperately want to be respected and the only way to do that is to knock off the defending champion.
But who's going to win?
For the Spurs it's simple, keep Kobe in check. Even though Pau Gasol is a great player, he's no Kobe Bryant and we haven't seen him put a team on his shoulders this deep in the playoffs. Plus the Spurs have a guy named Tim Duncan. He's only a three time NBA finals MVP and arguably the best big man on offensive.
Add that to the fact that the defending World Champs have the best sixth man and a point guard that's more than capable of running the team. Point blank: they simply know how to win. They find a way to come together as a team at the most opportune time and the Lakers will have their hands full.
While many view the Spurs as a dirty team with Robert Horry and Bruce Bowen, you can't take away the fact that the team get's it done when up against the wall. The big three for the Spurs—Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili—are averaging nearly 60 points per game together.
For the Lakers to win they have to keep Tim Duncan from scoring. In the Spurs three loses to the Hornets, Duncan averaged only 11 points per game. San Antonio needs all three weapons to put up points in order to win.
The Lakers counter with their own big three in Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom. They are averaging nearly 70 points per game collectively as Bryant has put on a show throughout the playoffs himself putting up 33 points per game.
While it's hard to bet against a team like the Spurs and their never say die attitude, Kobe has the Lakers really playing well and he wants to prove he can win without the dominant big man, and we all know who I'm referring to.
My prediction is the Lakers in six games to advance to the finals for the first time since the 2003-2004 season.