Three Ways to (Beat / Lose) (the / to the) (Spurs / Lakers)

Yes, I know, there just isn't enough Spurs / Lakers content on this blog right now. I think we've had a thousand comments since the end of game seven, averaging about 100 words a piece. I certainly haven't had time to read them all, instead only making sure nobody's being meanie-faces.

The guys who write the Lakers blog for the L.A. Times asked me to write something up so they could post it on some other site that isn't really the L.A. Times. They, in turn, answered the same question. Here it is:

Three Ways to Beat the Lakers

1) Make them a perimeter team.

The Lakers were sixth in the NBA this year in both three point attempts and three point makes. They’re certainly capable of shooting the rock, but there’s no question that if they get accustomed to launching from outside, the Lakers aren’t nearly as good a team. Their strengths come close to the rim, in penetration, good spacing, and crisp passing. When things are good, jumpers come from the inside out. When they don’t, the ball just moves around the perimeter.

Utah certainly learned that the hard way through the first three quarters of Game 6, and all the ones played in LA.

2) Get physical.

One thing the Jazz did do well was beat up the Lakers, particularly Pau Gasol. When he caught the ball in the high post, they hassled him. When he went up for a rebound, they bumped him. At times, it took Gasol out of the game. To his credit, the lanky Spaniard (is there a more gangly player in the NBA?) tended to bounce back at big moments, but he can be bothered. As can the team. Given the space to run their offense, the Lakers are almost impossible to stop.

3) Get on the glass.


Utah earned themselves endless second chance possessions by crashing the boards hard and consistently throughout all six games. They didn’t convert on enough of them, but it wasn’t for lack of opportunity. Phil Jackson hopes the Lakers can rebound well enough to close that margin against the Spurs, but no question the coaching staff is worried about rebounding.

Three Ways to Lose to the Lakers:

1) Over play Kobe.

Simply put, the Lakers move the ball too well and Kobe is too good at both recognizing the double and finding the open man. There is a very clear diminishing return to trying to throw bodies at Bryant. It might work for a trip or two, but over the long haul, it won’t. The last time the Spurs were in town, they gave it a shot, and as a result Gasol and Lamar Odom were able to roam free like big cats on a wildlife preserve. Nobody bothered them.

Along those lines…

2) Ignore the supporting cast.

I’m not just talking about Gasol and Odom, but everyone else down the line. The more players the Lakers can get into double figures, the more likely they are to win. He’s going to get his, as is Gasol. When Luke Walton, Sasha Vujacic, Vlad Radmanovic, and Derek Fisher go off, forget about it. The Lakers have an extremely multi-dimensional attack. If the Spurs let them have access to all of them, they’ll have trouble keeping up.

Kobe can attract so much attention on the offensive end, but teams have to recognize that the Lakers are dominant when they get balance, and that Kobe will play in a way to make it happen. He’ll still take shots that aren’t quality, but the number of CIFSPG (Cringe Inducing Forced Shots Per Game) Bryant hoists has gone down considerably. If the defense gives him 18 looks, that’s what he’ll take. But if that’s the case, he’s likely to have set up his teammates for a lot of great shots, and LA is likely to have piled up points.

3) Let them open up the floor.

When the Lakers are playing well, the offense allows for a great deal of space. They’ll run slip screens with Kobe and Gasol, cut off Gasol in the high post, move off Kobe’s penetration, or let Odom lead them on the break. The Spurs happen to be experts at clutching, grabbing, and doing all the little things that can make that more difficult. Let the Lakers pass the ball, and their tough. Force them to put it on the floor more, and they’re vulnerable. Relative to the alternative, they’re not a great one-on-one team.

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