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Time to Play B-Sides

By Jeff Koch on April 24, 2013.

San Antonio Spurs 102, Los Angeles Lakers 91
Spurs lead series 2-0

Game 2 is often all about the adjustments. The problem in this series is that there just aren’t that many to make. San Antonio is clearly the better and more talented team; if they play their game, they should win. And the Lakers are so decimated, they really only have one option of how to play and just hope everything falls into place.

The Lakers need to find a way to score more points. Two ways in which they could do this–and the two things I keep an eye on to start each game–is by hitting more 3-pointers and by getting cheap points off of offensive rebounds (a clear advantage for them with Dwight and Pau). And in the first quarter, they accomplished both of these, hitting as many 3s in the first 10 minutes as they did in the entirety of Game 1, and by getting some cheap points off of offensive rebounds.

The problem for the Lakers is that the Spurs had quite a bit of “internal” improvement possible between Game 1 and Game 2. Namely, making wide open shots (something they did better than just about every team in the league this season), and getting a closer approximation to the real Tony Parker. So while the Lakers found a way to be a bit better, so did the Spurs. And the Spurs improvement spanned the entire game, while the Lakers’ did not.

This game had a feel very similar to the first in that the Spurs could never quite pull away, but never really felt in danger. It hovered between 4 and 8 points most of the first half, and between 6 and 12 most of the 2nd, before it broke wide open midway through the 4th quarter. Parker had a bit of a break out 3rd quarter (finally hitting the shots he always makes but had been missing for a while), and that just about sealed it.

(AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Heading back to LA for Game 3, we should certainly get the Lakers’ best shot. But I just don’t know what’s in the barrel for them. Gasol and Howard aren’t the “huge” advantage people think it is. Nash is really limping; Blake may be, too. The Spurs are just too good and too efficient for the Lakers to overcome without some anomalies swinging hugely in their favor. If the Spurs continue to get this type of play out of Bonner, a rejuvenated Ginobili, a steady Duncan, and even an average Parker, this probably won’t be a long series. Add in Leonard’s mini “break out” game, and too many Spurs are playing too well for the Lakers right now.

But each game in a series is its own unique thing, and it’s impossible to predict the wild swings from game to game. Game 3 will be a battle, and should be quite enjoyable. Let’s hope the Spurs come out on the right side of it.

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