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The Spurs should never be taken lightly.
The fact that they’ve been mere afterthoughts during the previous two Finals doesn’t dismiss the fact that they employ the most decorated power forward of all time or the fact that they’re the only team in the game to have made the playoffs each and every year since the beginning of the 2000’s.
Point blank: this is a very, very good ball club.
The Spurs’ big three, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker, are all still among the top 10 players at their position.
Richard Jefferson, who took far too much blame for the Spurs unsuccessful 2009-10 campaign, has made noticeable progress across the board, cutting down on turnovers, increasing his field goal percentage and his scoring output. He’s also been a much more reliable option from beyond the arc so far.
Having said all this, anyone claiming to have predicted the Spurs’ incredible 22-3 start to the season after being swept out of the last year’s playoffs by the Phoenix Suns is lying through their teeth.
It seemed as though the Spurs had just enough in the tank to beat out the Dallas Mavericks before looking old, slow and washed up in their loss to Phoenix in the following round.
Sure they look rejuvenated now, but the season is still very early and they doubtlessly benefited from having such a long off-season.
Its doubtful that they’ll maintain this level of dominance throughout the season given the miles on the 33 year old Ginobili and the fact that they’ve become far more reliant on the three ball than they’ve ever been.
They are currently number one in three point shooting percentage and number two in total three pointers made.
Unfortunately for the Spurs, you don’t beat the Lakers from outside.
L.A. finished among the top three teams in opponent three-point field goal percentage over the last two seasons (ranked No. 1 last season) and remain in the top 7 at the category.
It would also seem that the Spurs lack the size to effectively combat the Lakers frontcourt of Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol.
Tim Duncan is the best (and perhaps the only) legitimate defensive presence the Spurs have on the inside, but in the event of a Lakers/Spurs playoff series, one would wonder how effectively Duncan could defend Pau Gasol given that Gasol is younger and the more productive of the two at this point in their careers.
Case in point: aside from Amar’e Stoudemire, Gasol has outplayed each and every power forward he’s been matched up against since 2008.
Although the Spurs have been very successful up to this point, the argument can be made that the Lakers have match up advantages at every position in the starting lineup besides point guard.
Don’t get me wrong, the Spurs won’t be an easy out for any team and a potential series between the two would be highly competitive, but even with the discrepancy between the current records for the Spurs and Lakers, the Lakers' track record and match up advantages don’t allow much room for the Spurs to be favored above them.