The Lakers did not get their 2013 postseason off to the way the wanted to on Sunday. Game 1 was setting up to be a steal game on the road for the Lakers, but they failed to seize the opportunity. The momentum that was built by the Lakers in the closing month of the regular season, where they went 7-1 with and without Kobe, hit a brick wall last Sunday. Now, the opportunity that is in front of the Lakers is to go into San Antonio, steal home court advantage and create momentum going back to the comfort of home in Los Angles for Friday’s Game 3.
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We were all waiting for the effects of not having Kobe Bryant on the court to be exposed, and on Sunday, the Spurs showed us. The Lakers’ offense was completely out of whack, and the defense was very solid. Well, that’s new. Without Kobe on the court, which consumes the opposing defense’s mind, the Spurs were able to disrupt the Lakers’ inside game, causing turnovers and poor shots. On top of that, the Lakers’ outside game was very inefficient, which only benefited the Spurs’ defensive plan. Therefore, adjustments must be made to the Lakers’ game plan in order for momentum to swing back to the purple and gold’s side.
Keys to Victory:
Take Care of the Ball – I have written about the Lakers needing to limiting turnovers so many times this season that I’ve lost count. However, as long as the Lakers turn the ball over 18 times as they did in Game 1, I will continue to write it. What specifically has to change in Game 2 is the amount of turnovers the Lakers’ bigs are responsible for. On Sunday, Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard combined for 10 of the 18 total turnovers. When the Lakers’ inside game is their biggest strength and advantage over the Spurs, giving up the ball and allowing the Spurs to make you pay for your mistakes (14 points off turnovers) will take the Lakers out of the game.
Be Efficient and Effective – There is a reason why the word efficient is typically followed by the word effective. These two words go hand in hand, and for the Lakers in Game 2, they will need to exhibit both qualities. The Lakers must be efficient and effective on both ends of the floor in order to steal home court advantage. In Game 1 the Lakers were effective on the defensive side (held San Antonio to 37.6 percent shooting), but failed to be efficient on the offensive end (shot 41.1 percent). The Spurs’ defense was good, but most of the Lakers’ missed shots were high-opportunity, good looks. The Lakers’ inside game can only have an impact if their outside game comes through consistently. Steve Nash, Steve Blake and Antawn Jamison in particular need to be more efficient tonight.
Limit Spurts – As stated before, the Lakers’ defense was very solid in Game 1. In fact, it was the third straight game that the Lakers held their opponent to under 40 percent shooting. The Lakers must maintain their level of effort and aggressiveness on the the defensive end, but must manage the Spurs’ ability to go on spurts. Not only did the Spurs have 17 fast break points (compared to the Lakers’ two), but Manu Ginobili was able to swing momentum to their side single-handedly. Ginobili scored 18 points in 19 minutes and posted eight straight points to close the third quarter, giving the Spurs a 70-57 lead. Completely stopping Ginobili may be unfeasible especially with Kobe out. However, limiting his ability to shift momentum by staying in front of him and playing smart defense, may limit him or any other momentum shifters on the Spurs.
Game 2, First Round, Western Conference
Los Angeles Lakers at San Antonio Spurs
6:30 PM PST, April 24, 2013
AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX
TV: TWC SportsNet, TNT
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 Matt Bonner
Series Summary: Los Angeles 0, Spurs 1
Game 1: Los Angeles 79 at San Antonio 91
Game 2: Apr 24, Tonight
Game 3: Apr 26, Los Angeles vs. San Antonio
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