The Los Angeles Lakers are going in the first round against the San Antonio Spurs confident and ready. They're gearing up strategy on how to play against the second seeded Spurs and looking on what makes their engine go.
Lakers forward Pau Gasol already knows what his mission is going to be. He's going to shoulder the task on defending the 36 year old Tim Duncan, who's been playing more along the lines of 26 years old lately.
"Make it hard for him. He's been playing really well, he's been very effective this season. Make him shoot over the top of myself and Dwight [Howard]. Make it tough for him. Not allow him to get going and get good looks in the post and get easy shots from the top of the key. Just again, make it really hard on him and hopefully contain him to a low-shooting percentage."
This sounds like great strategy by Gasol, but it might be easier said than done if the Spurs can get out of their offensive funk as of late. With the San Antonio pick and roll or pop attack, Gasol can't be at two places at once if the Lakers decide to contain Tony Parker or Tim Duncan.
The Big Fundamental has been posting up more lately, but that might not be the case against the two big men of the Lakers. Duncan may choose to jump shoot after setting a pick or take Gasol or Howard off the dribble, but it would be rare for the Spurs to try to go with a 4 Down play like they have been as of late.
Gasol sounds confident in his statement, but it would be pretty hard to imagine Duncan isn't thinking Pau will tend to be aggressive on the defensive end. Duncan used to get his points against the Lakers with Andrew Bynum in the paint like Dwight Howard will try to play help defense, but the factor that would give the Los Angeles Lakers a huge advantage was their bench players such as Lamar Odom. He could play various positions on the floor and that's where the Spurs got in trouble.
Right now, the Lakers have no depth in the big position like they used to have and that might get Gasol in trouble if he focuses too much on stopping Duncan. Gasol's aggressiveness may work against him this series, especially when he has to shoulder a lot of the overall load with Kobe Bryant being injured.
What do you think Spurs fans? Could Pau Gasol's confidence and aggression backfire on him or is Tim Duncan in trouble against two versatile big men on the defensive end?