I wish I had started writing this pregame article in the third quarter of Game Six. It was a much simpler and quaint period in my life. The Lakers led by 19 points and all roads pointed to New Orleans. Five wide open Utah three-pointers and a by-the-skin-of-their-teeth three-point victory later, things still seemed okay. The Lakers were on their way to the Conference Finals for the first time since 2004.

Their opponent: to be determined. The worst part of the Lakers celebratory weekend was something they had zero control over: for the first time in the 2008 playoffs, the Hurrrrnets lost on their home court.

The crusty, wily, angry, scowling San Antonio Spurs, full of pride and gusto, exposed the young Hurrrnets and dashed their hopes of an inaugural voyage the Conference Finals and subsequently earned a trip to Los Angeles. A trip they had already packed for. The defending champion’s presumption and revelatory attitude reportedly yielded a night sleeping on the team charter plane rather than a Five Diamond Los Angeles hotel.

Entering these Western Conference Finals it is important to remember how these two teams got to this point. The Lakers come in after sweeping Denver in the first round, where they ran circles around the Nuggets and nearly made the team explode in frustration. They ousted Utah in six games, including 96 minutes of basketball where they never trailed with wire-to-wire wins in Games 5 and 6.

The Spurs knocked off Phoenix in five and effectively ended the Mike D’Antoni era in the City of Smoke. They then were taken to seven by the upstart Hurrrrnets, never losing a game at home. History aside and collective fears mounted, the Lakers will tip-off against the Spurs Wednesday night at Staples Center.

In all the hours I have spent wracking my brain over this series and what it could hold, I have realized that if it is not hard, it is not worth it. Cliché and trite, maybe. Without this West Finals against the Spurs is like playing Mortal Kombat and skipping the final fight against Goro.

So bring on the bird-like face of Manu Ginobili, the blank expression of Tim Duncan, the pockmarked face of Gregg Popovich and the crazy purple arm of Ime Udoka because as my friend B-Will says “You gotta beat the champs to be the champs.” Damn. That should go on a T-Shirt.

Playoff Update! -

The C’s ratcheted up a big victory in Boston taking a 1-0 series lead against the Pistonitas using a unique defensive technique which basically consisted of Kevin Garnett running up to the ballhandler and screaming in his face until the 24-second clock ran out. I will probably grow wings and eat a salad before a road team wins in this series.

Television -

National: TNT (Marv Albert & Doug Collins)

Radio -

Los Angeles: AM570 KLAC (Spero Dedes & Mychal Thompson)

San Antonio: WOAI 1200 AM (Bill Schoening & Paul Castro)

Injuries -

Lakers:

  • Out: A. Bynum (Knee)
  • Questionable: T. Ariza (Foot)
  • Will Play: K. Bryant (Pinkie), D. Fisher (Foot)

Storylines -

Tempo: Pace is of paramount importance to the Lakers in this series. Control it and they will tire out the Spurs with their athleticism and ball movement. Play the Spurs style of slow-down halfcourt ball, and they’ll be getting their armpit hairs plucked out by Bowen and Udoka.

Close Out Three-Point Shooters: The Spurs have all sorts of dudes who like to spot-up for treys. Deny. Deny. Deny. It is simple: Bruce Bowen is going to go to the corner. Expect it. Manu Ginobili is going to hoist it up from the wing. Expect it. Robert Horry is going to punch Vladi in the face then step into a three. Expect it.

Varsity Challenge -

(Prize – A one night stay in Popovich’s pockmark on his left cheek.)

According to Spurs.com, their mascot Coyote set what career high against the Lakers on 12/17/97.

  • BringDFishBack

    20+ Points: Kobe and Lamar

    10+ Rebounds: Lamar.

    2+ Blocks: Gasol, Turiaf, and Kobe.

    3+ 3-Pointers: Fisher, Farmar.

    Closest To A Triple-Double*: Lamar.

    Point Margin: Lakers by 4.

    Out On A Limb: TD gets kicked out for laughing — oh wait that’s not really out on a limb since that’s already happened, so how about Farmar outscorers Tony Parker?

  • Kutmasta Kurt

    good preview….gotta stop the penetrating and kicking, don’t want any “brokeback games” (ahh, gotta love PJ)

    to answer the Varsity challenge, he set a recrod for hugs, an astounding 1118. haha, who records this stuff?

  • Michael24

    the spurs cayotes career high is 1118 hugs vs. the Lakers am I right

  • varsityoptimism

    [Comment ID #36514 Will Be Quoted Here]

    you take the right cheek

  • varsityoptimism

    [Comment ID #36516 Will Be Quoted Here]
    you take the left!

  • http://thelakersnation.com/blog/?page_id=2373 Jonny

    good preview!

    dont forget to post your predictions people!!

    at the top there the spurs logo is cut off so that it looks like it says “puf” hahaha

    take heart if you believe in signs haha

  • http://myspace.com/plummerrocks Machinehead18

    20+ Points: Kobe and Gasol

    10+ Rebounds: Lamar and Gasol

    2+ Blocks: Gasol and Turiaf.

    3+ 3-Pointers: Fisher, Sasha.

    Closest To A Triple-Double*: Kobe.

    Point Margin: Lakers by 6.

    Out On A Limb: Bruce Bowen attempts to do something dirty and fails.

  • GotAce

    Were winning this one.
    As well as the series.

    Remember Phil Jackson is 24-0 when leading 1-0 in a playoff series..

    Lakers Winn!!

  • GotAce

    Edit That..^
    40-0 :D

    Make that 41 as of Wednesday Night.
    -Phantomified.

  • .

    One of the best game previews yet. Well-written. It was actually of worth to read.

  • LakersAllDay

    20+ Points: Kobe

    10+ Rebounds: Gasol, Odom

    2+ Blocks: Gasol

    3+ 3-Pointers: Fisher, Sasha

    Closest To A Triple-Double*: Kobe

    Point Margin: Lakers by 5

    Out On A Limb: Ariza plays and dunks over Duncan

  • DaBlackMamba

    20+ Points: Kobe, Gasol, Odom

    10+ Rebounds: Odom

    2+ Blocks: Gasol, Odom

    3+ Three’s: Fisher, Vujacic

    Closest to Triple Double: Odom

    Point Margin: Lakers by 8

    Out on a limb: Fisher hits .4 again to end the first half : D

  • Sopi

    lakers by 15
    4-1 in 5

  • CK

    20+ Points: Kobe, Gasol

    10+ Rebounds: Odom

    2+ Blocks: Gasol

    3+ Three’s: Kobe

    Closest to Triple Double: Kobe

    Point Margin: Lakers by 6

    Out on a limb: Kobe makes a half court shot at half time.

  • varsityoptimism

    out on a limb: how about WE WATCH THE EFFIN GAME instead of making silly guesses!!!!!!!!

  • rozcoe

    out on a limb: how bout varsity chills the fk out and has some fun with the out on a limb picks.

  • smgs
  • http://- Kobefan11

    20+ Points: Kobe

    10+ Rebounds: Lamar,Kobe

    2+ Blocks: Ronny,Gasol

    3+ 3-Pointers: Sasha,Radman

    Closest To A Triple-Double*: Lamar.

    Point Margin: Lakers by 11

    Out On A Limb: Ariza will posterize TD.

  • http://- Kobefan11

    Oh,sorry,I wrote the same,as you wrote,lakersallday!

  • Timmy Boyz

    Well i say that Lakers when tonight….
    game1 Lakers 117 spurs93
    game2 lakers 109 spurs84
    game3 spurs 110 lakers 109
    game4 lakers 96 spurs 92
    game5 lakers 104 spurs 95
    Lakers in 5….Kobe averages 35+ a game….
    Gooooooooooo Lakers….

  • Timmy Boyz

    Just inagine what we would do if we had bynum 100% back…We would sweep…. next year 70 + wins and 16-0 playoff record….

  • True Lakers Fan

    my buddy jai said that manu will gaurd kobe but lamar is is soooo good nobody cand gaurd him

  • mplakers

    HEY, AMONG MANU’S BIRDLIKE FACE, POPOVICH’S POCKMARKS, AND DUNCAN’S STOIC LOOK, YOU FORGOT TO MENTION PARKER’S SHAVED UNIBROW. DUDE’S GOT A BROW WITH THE SAME SIZE AS THE LANDBRIDGE THAT CONNECTS RUSSIA AND ALASKA. EVA CAN LAY ACROSS THAT UNIBROW AND LOOK LIKE SHE’S TAKING PICTURES IN THE AMAZON JUNGLE.

  • DCLAKER

    Spurs are floppers,especially the NO.#1 Flopper in the World
    of Basketball,Manu.Their like Wrestlers when they turn bad,nobody likes them and they’ll do anything to win(including FLOPPING the whole series just to win)

    4-1,LAKERS.com,We can thank The Hornets for tiring those older legs.

  • Michael_23

    Anyone has the scoop on Drew’s surgery today and how long he’ll be out?

  • RoWyN

    20+ Points: Kobe and Pau

    10+ Rebounds: Lamar and Pau

    2+ Blocks: Pau

    3+ 3-Pointers: Radman

    Closest To A Triple-Double*: Kobe

    Point Margin: Lakers by 13

    Out On A Limb: Radman gets hot tonight

  • gugy

    Go Lakers.

    My prediction.
    LA will win the first two games at Staples. Hopefully we can steal one in SA. Then we will close it in LA.
    The other way would be just like the Jazz series. 2-2-1-1.

    We’ll see.

  • _Nejz_

    is there anything official about ariza playing the game?

  • kb24kb8

    20+ Points: Kobe, Gasol

    10+ Rebounds: Kobe, Odom

    2+ Blocks: Gasol, Odom

    3+ 3-Pointers: Fisher, Sasha

    Closest To A Triple-Double*: Lamar

    Point Margin: Lakers by 5

    Out On A Limb: Horry misses a crusial 3 pointer

  • http://www.deluxpro.com Viva Vegas

    I think Kobe and Lamars been hanging out a lot this season. The are using the similar words like: “tenacity” and “a little bit” . Pay attention in their interviews.

    Well if thats the case then they are in good shape.

  • lakrfan4life

    20+ Points: Kobe, Pau, and Lamar

    10+ Rebounds: Lamar and Pau

    2+ Blocks: Pau, Ronny

    3+ 3-Pointers: Fisher, Sasha

    Closest To A Triple-Double*: Kobe

    Point Margin: Lakers by 10

    Out On A Limb: Radman realizes he’s getting paid a sh*tload of money and decides to actually play ball…ditto on Farmar

  • Russ Ahi

    I think lakers will take care of business tonight

    it’ll either be a close game for the entire 48 minutes…

    or lakers will pull away strong in the 1st quarter and never look back…

    i say lakers in 6…i think spurs might win both at home…

    but if lakers steal one in san antonio, then it’ll be a 5 game series…

  • http://thelakersation.com/blog PauKobeBynumDynasty

    Its a funny feeling to me because for the first time in a very very long time we are the underdog. This is gonna be the toughest matchup for the Lakers…

    We’ve proved people wrong before…lets do it again!

    Here are my predictions:

    20+ Points: Kobe, Gasol

    10+ Rebounds: Lamar

    2+ Blocks: Gasol, Turiaf.

    3+ 3-Pointers: Sasha, Farmar

    Closest To A Triple-Double*: Kobe.

    Point Margin: Lakers by 9.

    Out On A Limb: The Spurs’ Big Three gets ejected with 2 seconds left in the game and Big Shot Rob hits the game-winning trey.

  • SiKWiDIt

    20+ Points: Kobe

    10+ Rebounds: Kobe and Lamar

    2+ Blocks: Gasol and Turiaf

    3+ 3-Pointers: Vlad and Farmar

    Closest To A Triple-Double*: Lamar

    Point Margin: Lakers by 12.

    Out On A Limb: The staples center brings out wheelchairs for the old and rotten spurs!

  • Geoge Larson

    Good work Andrew, as a fellow life-long fan, I applaud your work.

    Best,

    g

  • varsityoptimism

    [Comment ID #36600 Will Be Quoted Here]

    yay george!

  • phoebus

    see lots of people thinks LO has basketball hands …. well i do not think so with his heights and long arms i dont know how many times he missed easy lay-ups…..

  • Mon

    lakers won!

  • west213

    lakers winn hell ye by 4…you could see spurms were tired in d fourth.

  • phoebus

    Anybody know why ARIZA is not playing?

  • as1084

    lakers played like crap and still won…lakers are clearly the better team when everyone is playing well.