A weird thing happened in Game 1, the Lakers (0-1) had trouble making baskets instead of preventing the other team from scoring. Usually, it's the other way around.
What's even stranger is the scoring efficiency for both teams. The Lakers actually had a better percentage in shooting at 41.1% versus 37.6% for the San Antonio Spurs (1-0). Of course, the purple and gold did turn the ball over 18 times resulting in 14 points for San Antonio and allowed 18 points from Tony Parker after holding him to just 4 points in their final meeting of the season at Staples Center last time.
But the difference in the game is the bench scoring.
Jodie Meek, Antawn Jamison, Earl Clark and Darius Morris only managed a combined 10 points for the Lakers while the 2nd unit for the Spurs burned them with 40. That's a 30-point difference in a 12-point loss.
The 18 points that Manu Ginobili got isn't really all that surprising despite his poor conditioning since Manu is such a competitor, especially in the playoffs. But it's the 10 points from Matt Bonner that the Lakers really have to take care of tonight.
While Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol have to maintain their high scoring and domination of the glass, the Lakers have to make sure all of the little details don't hurt them as much in Game 2. But that's just one of many adjustments they have to make if they are to make this series even at 2 apiece.
In the 91-79 loss in Game 1, the Lakers didn't take advantage of their strengths enough, which is the post, even after seeing that their perimeter game wasn't quite on. That was the one thing the Spurs don't want to see in this series, and the Lakers obliged them by taking too many jumpshots.
That can't happen tonight.
The Lakers have to look into getting either Tim Duncan or Tiago Splitter in foul trouble early. If that happens, Bonner will come in to try to defend Gasol. That's the matchup that the Lakers really have to exploit since that will force either Duncan to leave Howard to help out or the perimeter defense to double, which will then open up a few good looks for the Laker shooters.
In fact, Metta World Peace should also have his share of opportunity in the post. Kawhi Leonard is a good defender, but he's nowhere big or strong enough to stop Metta from going to the rim.
As good of a coach as Gregg Popovich is, he knows his team isn't the quickest or the biggest team defensively to try to stop the Laker bigs from dominating the game while taking care of the issues that result in having to focus in on Gasol and Howard.
The Lakers have to be methodical in the way they force their advantage while keeping the Spurs on their toes by tossing in a few surprises for their defense to deal with.
But it's important for them to recognize what's not working for them and what San Antonio is taking away from them, then change what they need to do as individuals and as a team based on what's happening on the floor.
Hopefully, Mike D'Antoni can finally create some much needed adjustments on the fly so the players aren't out there trying to figure everything out by themselves.
Keys to the Game
> Adjustments: The Spurs are a veteran team that can adjust without a hitch. But that doesn't mean they won't have any problems if the Lakers are aggressive and smart in where to attack them.
> Perimeter Game: If the Lakers' outside shooting come out better tonight, that can only give way to their inside game to dominate the paint even more. And when that happens, San Antonio is in trouble.
> Defense: The way the Spurs play defense, it's probably a safer bet to see the Lakers improve defensively than taking care of their turnovers. Parker will still probably have his way on offense, but the Laker defense have to make both Duncan and Ginobili work harder for their shots. If they can somehow limit both players, the Lakers have a great shot at taking Game 2.
@ San Antonio Spurs
Tip-off: 6:30 p.m. (PST)
TV: TWC SportsNet (Southern California)/TNT (national)
Radio: 710 AM ESPN/1330 KWKW
Jordan Hill has been cleared by team doctors to play tonight.