Game Preview #36: San Antonio Spurs Vs Los Angeles Lakers

It's that time of the season again, and some say it's pretty late for this to be the first game between these two teams all season. But I dread this game. The Spurs haven't exactly wowed against the good teams, and the best team in the league just rolled into town.

Preview completed by a tag team of Latin D and Tim C.

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Los Angeles Lakers @ San Antonio Spurs
Where: AT&T Center - San Antonio, TX
When: January 12, 2010; 7:30 PM Spurs time
Watch: My35(San Antonio); KCAL(Los Angeles)


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How They Stack Up
16-6 Home 21-3
6-7 Road 8-5
101.9
Offense 103.6
95.6 Defense 96.6
48.7 FG% 45.8
39.4
3-pt% 34.6
74.8
FT% 77.1
42.0
Rebounds 45.5
14.2
TOs 14.0
7-3 Last 10 6-4
Won 1
Streak Won 4
2nd, Southwest Position 1st, Pacific

Country/Time Zone Game Time
Argentina 10:30 PM
West Coast
5:30 PM
Philippines 9:30 AM
Central Europe 2:30 AM
Palestine/Egypt 3:30 AM
East Coast 8:30 PM
Hell Frozen Over
6:30 PM
Perth, AUS 9:30 AM
Tokyo, JP 10:30 AM
Sydney, AUS 11:30 AM

Spurs
(22-13)
Matchups

Lakers
(29-8)

Tony Parker
"Unbelievable."

Point Guard

This is by far our most favorable match-up. Derek Fisher is a shadow of his former self this season, and has failed to impress me in every single Lakers game I've watched. That's not to say that he can't be dangerous: we still need to put a man on him when he's standing beyond the 3-point arc, and he's pretty much automatic from the FT line.

However, if the Spurs want to win tonight, Tony needs to dominate Fisher.

Advantage: Spurs


Derek Fisher
0.4

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Manu Ginobili
"FANGIO!"

Shooting Guard

I'm the biggest Manu fan you're likely to find outside of the Ginobili home. That said, Kobe's simply the best SG in the game right now, and one of the best players of all time. Kobe comes from a decidedly mortal game against Milwaukee, where he shot only 4-21, so he will probably want to wash the bad taste off his mouth. He hasn't been particularly efficient this season from deep, so whoever is assigned as our would-be Kobe-stopper needs to try to stop his penetration and hope his fadeaways are not falling.

Despite all that, Manu's playing some great basketball lately, scoring, being pesky on defense and creating offense with the usual Manu flair. His dunks prove he's feeling healthy, too. If there's a SG in the league outside Miami that can match Kobe on a good night, that's Manu. Let's hope for the best.

NOTE: Kobe is listed as "day to day". I fully expect him to play, because he's tougher-than-though (right?), but in case he actually sits this one out, prepare yourselves for a devastating loss against a suddenly unrecognizable Lakers team that lacks its two best players.

Advantage: Lakers


Kobe Bryant
NBA's best SG

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Richard Jefferson
"Let's be friends."

Small Forward

As always, the old adage has proven true: "More talent is better than less talent." People can expound on chemistry and craziness all they want, but having someone as talented as Artest in your team is always a good thing. To his usual rabid defense, Artest has added a reliable outside shot. In fact, he's currently the Lakers' best three point shooter. And that's just scary.

If RJ can use his strength and athleticism to penetrate and get some fouls from Artest early on, I'll be happy.

Advantage: Lakers


Ron Artest
Less crazy than usual

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Tim Duncan
"..."

Power Forward

It's fortunate that Pau Gasol is (probably) not playing today, because the Spurs would be in really deep sh*t if he was. However, Odom isn't exactly a bad option. He even does a couple of thing better than Timmy, and one of them is even one of Timmy's strengths: finding the open man. You're looking at the only big man in the league who is a better distributor than Duncan, so that's something to keep an eye on. The other thing he does better than Duncan is shooting from outside. In every other way, Timmy is better.

Expect Odom to start the game guarding Blair, and vice versa. It'll be interesting to see how both teams try to exploit that matchup.

Advantage: Spurs


Lamar Odom
Isn't Pau Gasol

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DeJuan Blair
"Lol!!!1!"

Center

Bynum is really a strange case - he seems(like the Spurs' own Ian Mahinmi) to not play full-tilt all the time, but when he's at his best it's overwhelming. But when he's not getting enough touches, he seems to lose interest. One thing that is mystifying about him is his rebounding: he spends nearly all of his time near the rim, but still averages less rebounds than Gasol, and even Odom. With his size, strength and speed, he should be able to dominate the boards, but he (again) seems to not have much interest in doing so. As scary as this is, he's definitely not playing to his potential thus far. Let's just hope he doesn't find a reason to be engaged tonight.

Advantage: Lakers


Andrew Bynum
Still an Enigma

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George Hill.
"Ian is the future."

Bench & Role Players

The Lakers' bench usually has one major advantage: Odom. If he's starting tonight, the bench will be considerably weaker. Brown is a guy that reminds me a lot of George Hill, but he's taller and will play any position from 1-3. Versatility is a big key to the Lakers' success, and Brown probably embodies that trait more than anyone else on their roster.

Beyond Brown and Jordan Farmar, there's not much there for the Lakers. And by now, we're all familiar with the firepower that the Spurs' bench possesses. It's time to show what the best bench in the league is capable of.

Advantage: Spurs


Shannon Brown
Multi-position threat

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Gregg Popovich
4 rings

Coach

Sorry, guys. This is the one opponent all year that gets the white box over Pop. I hate his guts, but I respect the hell out of him.

Advantage: Lakers


Phil Jackson
10 rings*
images via yahoo.com

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Other Factors

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Intangibles

This is the first game in a dreaded FOGAFINI. Expect some crazy lineups as Pop tries to limit everybody's minutes.

Advantage: Lakers

Mojo

The Lakers are involved with Dracula. 'Nuff said.

Advantage: Spurs

Winner:

Yeah, we aren't ready for this. Until we get some wins against good teams, I can't even allow optimism to creep in.

Keys To The Game

  • Interior Defense - Limiting the the effectiveness of the Lakers' frontcourt is the key to beating them. They thrive off of second chance opportunities, so the Spurs would be wise to actually box out in this game.
  • Team Passing - Despite their recent struggles, the Lakers still bring the stingiest defense in the league to SA tonight. The way to beat a great defense is with smart, crisp ball movement to find the open man. This is especially important considering that the Lakers give up the lowest 3-point percentage in the league. We can't depend on our outside shooting to save us tonight, so getting better looks inside is important to our success.

Strength of Schedule

Both teams have had a day off, and have a tough SEGABABA tomorrow night. The Spurs will be in Oklahoma City facing a team that has their number, and the Lakers are headed to Dallas to face a team that's probably still angry over their last meeting.

Last Time They Met

This is our first game against the Lakers this year, but last season, the Spurs suffered a 102-95 loss at home on March 12th.

Some Other Reading

Lakers

Silver Screen and Roll - The SBNation blog for the Lakers. Good writing, good people - yeah, I know, I'm shocked too.
Forum Blue and Gold - The best Lakers blog on the web, period.

Spurs

48 Minutes of Hell: The best TrueHoop team blog is now even better, after adding two new writers. Congrats to Jesse and Andrew, who are already doing good work.
Project Spurs: Check out their regular podcasts. I think they love Manu as much as we do, if that's possible.

Twitter Musings

Opposing Viewpoint

This isn't a regular feature, but since we have a PtR regular who also happens to be a Spurs Lakers fan, I thought it would be nice to get some input from him. So, olf had this to say:

1. If the Spurs can't beat the Lakers in SA when they are without Gasol and Kobe is shooting with his feet (OK, left handed) then they will never be able to beat them.

2. This Laker fan's biggest fear: If the Spurs can only get wins against sucky teams and if they beat the Lakers then that makes the Lakers . . .? Uggh!

3. The Lakers' record is pretty good and every team is banged up this time of the year but I can't point to a single Laker who is really playing great right now. They also seem surprised when opposing teams play with energy and execute well.

4. Obviously if the Lakers don't play better they will not repeat as champs. But it is a long season and they have enough succulent pieces to make some pretty tasty stew.

5. Only guarantee for Tuesday's game:

Winning team's fans will say: "See I told you we would kick your ass."

Losing team's fans will say: "It was regular season man, regular season doesn't mean anything."


Oh yeah, here's a YouTube from last year of Bynum talking on Tim Duncan. (At about 1:30 it'll make you realize what a {. . .} Bynum is.)


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XIJdufOLD78#t=1m32s

Where to Tune In

TV

This game will be aired on My35 in SA, and KCAL in the Los Angeles area. For some odd reason, the national networks didn't deem a battle between two of the top Western Conference teams important enough to broadcast. If you have cable or satellite, you'll have to look up your individual channel. And of course, there's always League Pass for the haves. For the have nots, read on.

Online

As always, NBA League Pass is recommended for those who are willing to pony up the cash. Most Spurs games will be broadcast there, which is especially helpful for those of us who aren't in the San Antonio area.

Please don't post links to illegal game feeds in the game thread. Links to illegal feeds are not permitted on SBNation, but you can probably find them out there on the internets if you're resourceful and desperate. In fact, nobody can stop you from googling "atdhe". You can also shoot an email to dmenendez@gmail.com for more assistance.

NBA League Pass audio is still free this year, so check it out.

Radio

If you're in the San Antonio area and aren't near a TV, tune in to WOAI (1200 AM).

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