No NBA team has ever rallied from a 3-0 deficit to win a playoff series. In order to avoid that predicament, the Lakers must win tonight. Plain and simple. The Spurs did what they were supposed to do and held serve on their home court. If the Lakers had managed to steal a game they would’ve been in great shape returning to Staples. Thus, not only do the Lakers need to win tonight, they need to win the next two at home to make this a series.
Of course that is easier said than done. The Lakers injury woes have continued to cast a dark cloud over this season. Nash and Meeks are doubtful for tonight’s game, and Blake is out indefinitely. The loss of Blake especially hurts since he’s been playing great since Kobe went down. Things are not looking rosy for the Lakers – it seems as if the basketball Gods have stacked the odds against them. Tonight, the Lakers will need to muster up the same determination and grit that led them to close out the season with five consecutive wins.
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Keys to Lakers’ Victory:
Limit Turnovers – Through the first two games the Lakers are averaging 15.5 turnovers. That’s one more turnover than their season average. This is not a good thing at all. Couple the Lakers turnovers with the fact that the Spurs haven’t turned it over much at all (8.5 TO avg over two games), and it’s no surprise that the Lakers are trailing 0-2. The Lakers may be without two of their primary ball handlers (Blake and Nash) this game so it’ll be up the D-League MVP, Andrew Goudelock and Darius Morris to take care of the rock. Coach Pop will probably try to discourage these young players and force them into making bad plays.
Offensive Variety – Surprisingly the Lakers have played decent defense. Over the past two games the Lakers have held the Spurs to 44.3 percent shooting. However, they have struggled to score on offense, averaging just 85 points per game. The loss of Kobe has certainly disoriented the team’s flow. Gasol has been used as the catalyst in the high post. The Lakers should continue to go to Gasol at the elbow, but they should also mix in some screen/cutter action. It’s quite unexpected that people would be using the words “stale and predictable” to describe D’Antoni’s offense. At this point, Coach D’Antoni needs to roll the dice and mix things up.
No Defensive Lapses – The Lakers cannot afford to snooze on defense and allow Tony Parker or Manu Ginobili to make a run. We have seen this happen several times this series already and it’s glaring to watch. Typically when Dwight is resting, the Spurs will start to fearlessly roam the paint. Hopefully Jordan Hill is healthy enough to make a significant contribution on the defensive end. The injury-riddled Lakers will need every ounce of effort from each healthy player to earn a win tonight.
Game 3, First Round, Western Conference
Los Angeles Lakers at San Antonio Spurs
7:30 PM PST, April 26, 2013
Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
TV: TWC SportsNet, ESPN
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) 1330 KWKW (Spanish)
Spurs Projected Starting Line-up
PG: Tony Parker
SG: Danny Green
SF: Kawhi Leonard
PF: Tim Duncan
C: Tiago Splitter
Key Reserves: G Manu Ginobili, G Gary Neal, F/C Matt Bonner
Series Summary: Los Angeles 0, Spurs 2
Game 1: Los Angeles 79 at San Antonio 91
Game 2: Los Angeles 91 at San Antonio 102
Game 3: Tonight
Game 4: Apr 28, Los Angeles vs. San Antonio
*Game 5: Apr 30, Los Angeles at San Antonio
*Game 6: May 2, Los Angeles vs. San Antonio
*Game 7: May 4, Los Angeles at San Antonio