A heavy-weight battle between two of the NBA’s best teams face off tonight in San Antonio as the San Antonio Spurs (26-4) host the defending NBA champions Los Angeles Lakers (21-9).
With so much preseason hype surrounding the Lakers, it has been the Spurs who have stolen the spotlight and are considered by some to be the top team in the Western Conference. Despite the Lakers dropping a few games early in the season, including a recent loss to the Miami Heat, it would be wise to never count out a team with Kobe Bryant and coached by Phil Jackson come the stretch run before the playoffs commence.
To talk about tonight’s matchup, I turn to Rey from The No Look Pass a Lakers and general NBA site everyone should visit daily.
In this Q&A, Rey talks about the Lakers start to the season, the Spurs’ guards, keys to the game and much more. To read the Q&A I did with Rey, click HERE to visit The No Look Pass.
Jeff: So much has been made of LA not looking strong. Yet they are 21-9 which is not a bad record at all. Should people take a step back and realize it’s not time to push the panic button on the Lakers?
Rey: We all know people like to overreact over a loss or two. No panic button should be pushed but there should be cause for concern. The Lakers haven’t beaten a good team in a while now. That road trip they had was cake, taking on teams like Philly and Toronto and the like. 21-9 isn’t bad, yes, but your Spurs and the Mavs have better records. It hasn’t been talked about much yet but the Lakers would like to get home court advantage throughout the playoffs. This game against San Antonio should be a nice barometer of where they are as a team this season.
Tim Duncan averages slightly over 20 points against the Lakers. Is he the player LA must shut down or is it others?
It should be a push between him and Pau Gasol. But the guard play is where the Lakers have a disadvantage. Derek Fisher is 48 years old going on 228 and guys like Darren Collison and Mike Conley look like world-beaters against him. So Tony Parker is going to look very awesome against L.A.
The Lakers added a few new pieces to an already loaded roster over the summer namely Matt Barnes, and Steve Blake. What are your thoughts about these two new additions and how have they been in the LA system?
They’ve fit in great. Barnes is perfect because he moves so well without the ball. He never stops moving on both sides of the ball and no one really talks about his rebounding (averages more than 5 off the bench). As for Steve Blake, he keeps the ball moving and has been a very good back-up to Derek Fisher. He’s not the greatest defender but, at least, he gives it a great effort. I would also like to see Steve shoot a little bit more. He’s too good of a shooter not to.
This is a matchup NBA fans have been looking forward to this season. We have the history, the rivalry, and a few instant classic games when these two teams have played before. However, do you think the rivalry has calmed down a bit or is it still heated?
I think part of the calming down of the rivalry is the fact that the media loves to shove down supposed LeBron/Kobe rivalries down our throats. But there’s no doubt these two teams play great contests against each other. And with the Spurs not struggling like last year, the Spurs/Lakers games are ones that fans will look forward to again, especially if this one comes down to the wire.
Keys to the game for Los Angeles to come out with a win.
Defense, defense, defense. I can’t stress that enough. I’d love to see Ron get down and dirty. Would love to see Kobe and Barnes roam around the perimeter and bother the wings. Would love to see Bynum, Pau, and Odom give Duncan, Splitter, and Blair trouble down low.
What’s your game prediction?
Both teams, however, have been awesome offensively this year. But then the Lakers have a penchant of getting lazy on defense as of late, especially when they’re not hitting shots on the other end. I hate to say this but I think the Spurs push them away in the final minutes, 109-102. God, I hate myself.