The Spurs continue their first road trip of the season with a stop in Tinsel Town to take on the Showtime Lakers Version 2.0. Saturday night the Silver & Black saw their hopes for a road win squashed by the Portland Trail Blazers. Tonight’s match up may offer a little solace.
San Antonio Spurs (1-1) at Los Angeles Lakers (0-2)
October 22, 2018 | 9:30 PM CT
Watch: FSSW, NBATV | Listen: 1200 AM
Spurs injuries: Dejounte Murray (knee), Lonnie Walker IV (knee), Derrick White (heel).
injuries suspensions: Brandon Ingram (4 games), Rajon Rondo (3 games).
If counting out the Spurs season after season is the industry norm, then giving LeBron James a moratorium on his reign will be the next wave. Or in a SAT question form:
Gregg Popovich is to Coach of the Year as LeBron James is to NBA MVP.
This year should be no different for King James, except that he has escaped the safety harness of the Eastern Conference and now must make his way through the West. It’s strange to realize that this might be the first year LeBron may not make the finals for nine years.
But then again, you can’t count him out. And with the Lakers selling their fans on the resurgence of the Showtime era, that puts even more pressure on James to take this collection “really, they signed that guy?” players to the playoffs for the first time in six seasons, the longest absence in the Lakers’ otherwise storied career.
An 0-2 start is probably not what Magic Johnson had in mind, but then again, neither was the outcome of the Lakers home opener, and not just in terms of wins and losses.
As I predicted, Carmelo Anthony is already a toxic influence on the Rockets, and even though he wasn’t one of the ejected, Melo was still in the mix. The real instigator was Brandon Ingram, though it can be argued that Harden (and his ability to draw questionable fouls) was really the initial cause. If you add the volatile nature of Rajon Rondo and Chris Paul to any tense situation, it’s easy to understand just how this all turned out.
Consequently, the Lakers will be missing their starting point guard and power forward, which levels the playing field with the short-handed Spurs roster.
Lonzo Ball against Bryn Forbes looks unfair on paper, with the Baller Brand boy much more heralded that the former Michigan Spartan, but Forbes stepped up against the Blazers and maybe it’s not as unbalanced as it seems. Hitting 3s is Bryn’s specialty and if his shot is like it was on Saturday, the Lakers should consider themselves warned.
LeBron will do what LeBron does, and strategically speaking, letting him do his thing and cutting everyone else out of the equation means that James tires himself out late in the game. Utilizing that game plan could allow the Spurs to make a final run to beat the Lakers, claiming their first road win since beating James on his previous home court last February.
With Ingram suspended, LaMarcus Aldridge has an opportunity to dominate the paint. Against the Timberwolves, he looked great against Karl-Anthony Towns but struggled to score against the Blazers. Look for LMA to get untracked early and establish himself under the basket.
LeBron to L.A. always seemed like a bad idea. Why does the best player in on the planet go to a team that didn’t even make the playoffs? This one was not to bring a championship to The Land. This one was for the money, the glory, the fame (not the NBA fame), and the outside opportunities. Los Angeles is all about location, location, location.
There was already an undesirable element hovering around this team starting with an oversized paycheck for a declining Kobe Bryant that hindered the idea of the Lakers being a destination which eventually devolved into the circus that is LaVar and his Balls.
It didn’t matter to James that he was going to a team without established players, his signing engendered a tailwind of ring-chasing hangers-on. Adding Rondo and Lance Stephenson is the equivalent of going negative during a political campaign. [Editor’s note: a somewhat tortured metaphor, but let’s go with it.]
Meanwhile, the Spurs shed their negativity [Editor again: This is not a metaphor, it’s actually quite literal] and picked up a prolific player in DeMar DeRozan. Scoring 28 points in each of the first two games and sealing the game against the Timberwolves by making a clutch bank shot shows exactly how Spursy #10 truly is. You can expect him to take over the game quickly tonight and lead the way throughout.
Vegas odds: Lakers by 1.5
Game Prediction: Spurs by 5
For the Laker fans’ perspective, visit Silver Screen and Roll.
PtR’s Gamethread will be up this afternoon for those who want to chat through the game. You can also follow along with the action through PtR’s Twitter feed.