Danger Zone Ahead

So, our beloved Los Angeles Lakers just won a pretty decisive game against what are currently one of the best teams in the NBA in the Utah Jazz. That's a nice recovery from last game, yes? But I doubt many of us, if any, would believe it is sufficient in itself to display that the Lakers are ready for war. Most fans, and likely the coaching staff, would believe they need to keep pushing. However, one of the key issues with this team has been the tendency to take the foot off the Pedal, whether this manifests itself in a 'Random Quarter Collapse' (as our friends at resident Spurs Blog Pounding The Rock would say - do visit, it's an excellent site with brilliant fans. I shouldn't need to remind you to be civil, and in reality you'd feel bad behaving at any less than your utmost in such company), or in a let-down game after a big win.

The 'big win' has occurred. Will this be the let down game? If this team is made of the stuff true dynasties are moulded from, absolutely not. Any truly dominant team would still feel humiliated at the level of play these Lakers have been displaying, and thus keep their foot on the gas from here on out until hoisting a banner. Does this sound likely, considering the mentality of this team? Nope. As such, I'm busy mentally preparing myself for a loss in order to not suffer dissapointment. Even as recently as last season, one would believe that after last game the Lakers were well and truly on their way to turning it around and gaining momentum, but now one cannot be sure.

Regardless, analysis after the Jump.

These Spurs, previously written off as old and frail, have pulled a typical San Antonio Zombie Spurs move and have come out of nowhere to be beating teams like Orlando by double digits. Newsflash: Orlando is playing better than us. Unless these Spurs have a let-down game of their own, which is unlikely considering the professionalism of the team and the fact that they always get fired up playing their old rivals the Lakers, we're not favoured to win this game.

However, if we truly have turned it round, we're talented enough to blow these Spurs out of the water. I don't think La Connectione Francais is playing, so that leaves a two-man punch of Timmy D and Manu Ginobli for us to focus on. Manu Ginobli is fire. Somewhere, Ron Artest is meditating in preparation for this game. All Ron needs to do is to avoid fouling (or anything resembling a foul, Manu is damn good at flopping), try keeping him out of the paint, and get a hand to every shot. Typical defense, and I'm most definitely not qualified to tell Ron-Ron anything about defense - very few people are. When Ron's not on him, it's Kobe time. Those two should allow us to single-cover him throughout the game (it's awesome having two all-World defenders on the same team, ey?).

Tim Duncan is a future Hall-of-Famer, Greatest-Power-Forward-In-The-Game-type player. But, to repeat to tired cliche, he's getting old. Even after this, he's quietly putting up good numbers in lowered minutes, but the unavoidable fact is that his lateral quickness is virtually nonexistent these days. While this doesn't affect his offense too much, as he relies on his pure skill to score, and nor does it affect his low-post defense against traditional bigs too much; the notion of having to attempt to defend the crafty and quick Pau Gasol doubtless keeps him up at night. Once again, single-coverage should suffice.

Other Spurs starters include George Hill, starting in place of Tony Parker. He dropped fire on us last time, and while Derek Fisher actually managed to play sustainable defense on Deron Williams, we shouldn't keep playing with fire and Phil should therefore place Shannon Brown on Georgie as much as possible. His length and strength should create issues. Just put a shock-collar on Shannon that gives him a couple (hundred) volts whenever he takes on of his typical terrible shots.

RJ... God, Spurs fans hate him. He's failed to live up to expectations this season. Hell, when he got traded to San Antonio, I was scared, I thought they had dynasty potential. What stopped them was a combination of age, chemistry issues, and RJ failing. Regardless of how much he's sucked this season, he has put together a couple strings of decent games from time to time, and it just may be a good idea for Kobe to actually defend him instead of playing 'free safety', just as a precaution against the ever-present possibility of Ricko going off.

Dyess is old and slow, and not living up to expectations. Lamar Odom is going to feel like a kid in a.... man, he's gonna feel like he's Willy Wonka's factory. Perfect matchup for him. Work off the elbow or top of the key, use his speed, get to the hoop. The 26 and 10 he dropped against Boozer and Millsap? Here, he could drop that in his sleep. 

The Spurs' bench, with George Hill pressganged into the starting lineup, is not that deep. Roger Mason is a decent player, but nothing special. Matt Bonner is a decent offensive player, but an absolute sieve on D. Dejuan Blair is a beast, but he's hit the wall. Plus, he's shorter than Kobe, for chrissake. There's no-one else worth really mentioning.

The Lakers are better at nearly everything statistically than the Spurs, except for the actual act of putting the ball in the hole - San Antonio has a significantly higher TS% and eFG%; and this alone gives them a higher Offensive Rating. The Spurs are also better on the defensive glass than L.A, as L.A has a tendency to give up offensive boards to their opposition - however the Lakers are better than them on the offensive glass, so it all evens out on the glass. The Spurs also allow fewer threes per game, but L.A's excellent three-point defense negates any potential advantage that could allow - besides, it's not like we really want the Lakers shooting threes, anyway.

Side note: Who would've thought in a matchup of the Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs, the Lakers would be the defensive power? Also, it's scary how similar the two teams look on the stat table..

The timing of the game means it's at 5 in the morning here, so I can't be stuffed watching. Somehow, I doubt I'll miss much.

 

Lakers

Spurs

RECORD

55-21 (2)

46-19 (13)

NET POINTS PER GAME

+5.4 (4)

+5.0 (5)

PACE

93.1 (13)

91.5 (23)

OFFENSIVE RATING

109.1 (10)

110.0 (9)

Turnover Rate (Off.)

12.59 (5)

12.88 (8)

FTA/FGA (Off.)

28.9 (20)

28.9 (21)

Free-Throw %

76.6 (12)

74.5 (22)

3PT FGA/FGA (Off.)

22.5 (12)

22.9 (11)

3PT% (Off.)

34.4 (18)

36.3 (9)

Effective FG% (Off.)

49.9 (14)

51.4 (7)

True Shooting% (Off.)

54.2 (15)

55.1 (9)

Off Rebounding Rate

27.43 (9)

26.74 (15)

DEFENSIVE RATING

100.2 (4)

102.1 (9)

Turnover Rate (Def.)

13.43 (16)

12.13 (28)

FTA/FGA (Def.)

26.2 (1)

28.3 (10)

3PT FGA/FGA (Def.)

23.0 (22)

17.6 (1)

3PT% (Def.)

32.2 (1)

33.9 (4)

Effective FG% (Def.)

48.2 (4)

48.3 (5)

True Shooting% (Def.)

51.9 (2)

52.6 (5)

Def Rebounding Rate

74.51 (21)

73.34 (4)

Numbers in parentheses indicate league rank. All numbers courtesy of Basketball Reference and HoopData.

 

Note: This lack of pictures depresses me, but it's already 5:40 AM here (I got back from a party) and I really can't be stuffed searching. Therefore, start posting images (shaqfor3, I'm relying on you). Try to make them relevant to the preview or the game at hand.

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