With the San Antonio Spurs big three at full strength and a Kobe Bryant who could do nothing more than contribute some twitter commentary, the Los Angeles Lakers were simply a half-step behind out of the gate. Literally.
The most telling stat of this game was the disparity in fast break points. For a team who’s coached by a man with an affinity for transition basketball, his team only mustered two fast break points. A far cry from the Spurs 17.
Which ultimately begs the questions, how will the Lakers match the firepower of the Spurs? In short, they won’t.
However in game 1 the Spurs did only convert on 37.6 percent of their shots. Well short of their season average of 48.6 percent average, which trails only the Miami Heat. So hats off to the Lakers defense, honestly.
That said, the only way L.A. is going to have a fighting chance in this series is by shooting higher than their regular season average of 36 percent from beyond the arc, showing a far better effort on the glass and by taking care of the ball.
The Lakers shot 20 percent from behind the three point line Sunday afternoon, allowing the Spurs to shrink the floor on defense.
In the sets D’Antoni was running, where both bigs operate out of the high post, it’s an absolute necessity that there be a threat from three for Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard to operate off of screens from their guards.
The Lakers also coughed up 18 turnovers, 10 of which can be attributed to the Lakers big men. The Spurs finished with only 9.
Now it’s not a horrible idea for the offense to run through the Lakers big men, as that’s where their strength lies and it’s crucial that they consistently have the ball in their hands.
Although with a point guard like Steve Nash finally back in the lineup, it would be advisable to keep the ball in his hands until Gasol and Howard have acclimated to the flow of the game.
It would also be nice to see the Lakers bigs actually establish themselves in the posts before they attempt to distribute. Which you’d think would be common sense, but apparently not.
Lastly, the Lakes must exploit the only true advantage they have in the series – which is on the glass. L.A. ranks fourth in rebounds per game, where as the Spurs rank 21st.
So there is absolutely no reason the Spurs should be collecting two more offensive rebounds than the Lakers or finishing just one rebound shy of their game total.
Long rebounds could attribute to this from the Spurs 25 three point attempts, but this mostly comes down to effort – as will the series.