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scare wrote:My thoughts on Game 1:
The Spurs dominate offensively and defensively. Tim Duncan is playing dominating basketball and once again showing he's one of the best post players to ever play the game. When he faces up Gasol for that short 45 degree bank shot, there's no guarding him. Duncan's aggression offensively set the tone for the Spurs offense. Parker did a great job penetrating the Laker "defense" and did well distributing to perimeter players. Ginobili didn't shoot well but his driving did break down the defense enough to facilitate others. The biggest thing that went well for the Spurs aside from Duncan was their defense of passing lanes. Rarely did the Lakers have clear passes to execute their offense. The Lakers didn't exactly turn the ball over a lot, but it took them out of their game forcing the Lakers to take bad shots. The only reason the Lakers are within 8 at the half is because Radmanovic showed up in that first quarter and did something.
The Lakers show that they are unable to guard Duncan one-on-one with Gasol. Duncan's combination of a strong deep post game along with that sleek and simple bank shot leaves Gasol with no answers. The only time they are able to make Duncan miss is when Duncan forces himself across the lane only to take wild hook shots. The Lakers offense is also lacking. The team is far too passive and assume they can just pass once and get an open shot. Because that first pass is denied by the Spurs' great defense, the resulting offense is left standing around with no great options.
The Spurs defense locks in during that first half of the third quarter. The stifling defense takes a toll on the Laker team as you could almost see the slouch in every Lakers player on the court. Rebounding for the Spurs has been key as their strength on the boards means the Lakers cannot get out on the fast break and play the game they like. However, two coaching moves change the game I think. First, Phil Jackson brings in the young Lakers bench unit. This fast and hard nosed unit is sorely needed when the starters are clearly lacking confidence. Second, Popovich decides to play quasi-small ball against the faster paced Laker unit. This breaks the Spurs defense as playing small ball (with only Duncan being the only big man on the court) leads to the Lakers being able to both rebound and play up-tempo. Parker also disappears for the half while Ginobili finds trouble with the faster Laker team. Duncan is still playing well, but the game has strayed away from the slow half court grind-fest more advantageous to the Spurs.
The Lakers, after looking like they were about to fold and call the series quits, get a sorely needed kick in the butt by the bench. Afterwards, Black Mamba checks in to the game and rips the Spurs with aggressive play. Popovich was late to bring in Bowen in that third quarter and this lets the Lakers get within shooting distance by the time the third quarter ends. The fourth quarter sees Bowen making silly mistakes and getting himself 5 fouls, essentially resulting in Mamba getting free rein.
Post game thoughts
The come around from 20 down was definitely shocking. That's more of something you expected from the Denver Nuggets and not the San An-freaking-tonio Spurs. Their defense got lazy and they'll get an earful or five from Pops. I don't expect the Spurs to disappear in the series. The Lakers, having stolen back Game 1 after giving it away, find themselves with great confidence against the defending champs. I think that confidence will carry over to Game 2 with the Lakers winning. Then as the series swings to San Antonio, the two games there will be split with Game 3 going to San Antonio and Game 4 to Kobe Bryant's dominating game. Game 5 in LA could very well be going to the Spurs as that team will not be defeated in just 5 games. After that, I think the Lakers will win Game 6. Of course, I'm a biased Laker fan here so take things with a grain of salt.
PS. Lickety, maybe you give us a write up of Game 2 for the Boston-Detroit series along with your thoughts on the progression of things over in the East.
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