This is another in a series of Gameday Q&A’s I’ll be having with other NBA and team bloggers once a week. For tonight’s game, I talked to Kurt from Forum Blue & Gold. We’ll also be live blogging right here on Project Spurs starting at 7:30 p.m. central and recording a Lakers postgame podcast, which will be up tomorrow morning.
1. The Lakers and Spurs have had a long history, especially several playoff battles. If you had to pick one, what would be your favorite Lakers-Spurs moment?
Certainly I enjoyed the sweep in the 2001 Western Conference Finals a lot, that was easier on my blood pressure. But for me, if I had to pick one, it would be the Derek Fisher .04 shot. People (at least in LA) forget what a great shot Duncan had made before that, one outside his range but the best step up when it matters. I had given up and walked out of the room in frustration, but came back for that shot and I don’t think I’ve ever jumped as high as when that went in.
But I’m sure that’s not your favorite memory.
2. Speaking of playoff matchups, the Lakers ended the Spurs hopes of a repeat last year. I’ve always said, that with a healthy Manu Ginobili, it might be a different series and if the Spurs didn’t go on to play the Celtics in the Finals, it would have at least gone to a game 7. Do you agree with that opinion, or is Sasha Vujajic that good a defender?
I never really get into the revisionist history, because if you’re going to play that game then I want Andrew Bynum back healthy to clog the paint and Trevor Ariza, who would have given Manu more trouble than Sasha. Who knows how any of that turns out.
But whatever you do, don’t underestimate how good Boston was last year. Remember, the Lakers beat the Spurs and everyone else in the West because of an overpowering offense. But Boston did things (shutting off the ball rotation, taking away cuts with physical play and some holding) that just took the Lakers out of what they wanted to do. No other team had come close to doing that. They were the best team in basketball last season and deserved the title, and I don’t think anyone takes them seven.
3. The Lakers are obviously one of the better teams in the NBA now, winning nine of the last ten. But some of their recent wins over Miami and Indiana have shown a few weaknesses. They struggled against Miami’s defense, which led to several turnovers and they let teams back in after taking early leads. Can those issues turn out to be an achilles heel or just something they will smooth out over time.
Indiana, and to a lesser extent Miami, are teams that are a matchup problem for the Lakers. Plus, Miami has that Wade guy, who is pretty good. Miami gambles on defense, it costs them at times but it works at other times, and they hit thier jumpers in that game (it’s hard to beat any team doing that). The other thing to remember is that Phil Jackson lets his team learn by struggling. He puts out odd rotations and lineups this time of year and lets the guys figure it out for themselves. It’s all about coming together when it matters.
I checked the standings, and there are no style points given out in the NBA. It’s about winning, and the Lakers are 30-6.
4. On top of that Phill Jackson has been overly critical of Vujacic and Radmanovic lately, even saying “he just doesn’t have a brain.” Do you thing those can turn into bigger problems or is it just Phil being Phil?
That’s how Jackson has motivated players since Chicago, he calls them out in the media. And it worked, Radmanovic has played better the last couple games. He’s always going to make a couple bonehead plays on defense, but when he’s hitting threes that’s a decent tradeoff. The guys in the locker room don’t take that personally (Radmanovic was more pissed when he wasn’t getting playing time recently, not about the comments.
It’s just Phil being Phil.
5. What do you consider to be the key matchup for tonight and what is your prediciton?
I think the interesting matchup are who on the Spurs gets assigned Pau Gasol and who Bynum, it’s hard to stop both and they are moving the ball well from the high to low post recently. Also, how do the Lakers defend Parker — speedy point guards have killed the Lakers this season.
Prediction, the Lakers are missing three key role guys and are on the second night of a back-to-back, but I’d lose my bloggers license if I picked against them. I’ll say Lakers 95-91.