The San Antonio Spurs have lost the number one seed in the Western Conference for now, but they can still reclaim it. The Los Angeles Lakers are
If they do, there's a lot of possibilities on who can win if you ask their respective fan basis and they'll probably be picking their own teams without hesitation.
For Magic Johnson, it's a no brainer. He predicts for former team, Los Angeles Lakers, would defeat the San Antonio Spurs if they were to meet in the first round.
One highly regarded NBA legend seems to think the Lakers could handle the Spurs, though. According to ESPN, former Laker guard Magic Johnson has predicted the Lakers to beat the Spurs if they were to indeed meet in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.
This indeed a bold prediction by Magic, to say the least. Everyone knows he's a huge Lakers home but so is everyone other former player. Spurs fans can't complain about that since David Robinson practically picks the Spurs to win every year. While Magic really has no reasoning to actually believe this (maybe he's just wanting to show his Lakers colors), the Lakers meeting the Spurs are a huge mismatch in San Antonio's favor than Los Angeles meeting the Oklahoma City Thunder.
As the article states, the Lakers and Dwight Howard have shown flashes of their potential but not enough to convince anyone they'll be able to bring that in a seven game series. While they're underachieving on the court, the coaching matchup also presents a problem for the Lakers.
Mike D'Antoni likes to cut his rotation shorter in the playoffs than in the regular season and he already has a short rotation by normal coaching standards. Los Angeles would be running older legs with Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Metta World Peace, and Pau Gasol in a shortened rotation while the Spurs wouldn't mind going 10 deep in the playoffs.
San Antonio also presents a bigger problem with the playing style they've showed this season. They can get up and down the floor scoring in bunches and they can slow down the game with a 4-Down play for Duncan occasionally. They're also not a "jump shooting" team as they've often been described since they prefer to rely on the pick and roll attack.
Unlike the Thunder, the Spurs would present a horrible matchup for the Lakers in that they can throw different offensive schemes at them, depending on what the Lakers are showing on defense. One of the most forgotten elements of the Spurs this season is their defensive improvement. If the Spurs face the Lakers and their shortened rotation, head coach Gregg Popovich could throw different looks at the Lakers to make them uncomfortable.
Pop would likely use Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Manu Ginobili, and Stephen Jackson on Kobe Bryant. Pop also has the luxury of using Tim Duncan, Boris Diaw, and Tiago Splitter to guard the Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard combination. While the Lakers may have better individual talent, there's no way they could keep up with the Spurs in a seven game series without showing serious fatigue and also already showing that with the intensity they've had to play with just to get in the playoffs (if they do).
Magic Johnson may be a Lakers homer, but his prediction is one that will get eyes rolling from a perspective that's not bias to any team. Both teams can still meet with the different possibilities that the playoff seedings still present. Out of all the opponents, the Lakers should be fearing the Spurs most of all out of the top two seeds.
[via Rant Sports]