Please, let’s not talk about the foul-or-no-foul no-call at the end of the last game, let’s just focus on the game at hand.
Pertinent Facts -
Lakers are 2-0 in close out games.
Lakers are 7-0 at home.
Lakers rotation age average: Young.
Spurs rotation age average: Old.
Now, I know a huge deal has been made about the aging Spurs, but the truth is this is their last time around with this current roster (well, current supporting cast) and you have to feel that they’re going to give it their all in Game 5.
Marquee Matchups -
Point Guard – Derek Fisher vs. Tony Parker: Apart from the incident of which we shall not speak, Fisher has been playing very good defense on Tony Parker. Parker may get his mandatory 2-3 easy layups but Fisher has done a tremendous job in keeping Parker out of the paint. Another good thing he’s done is avoiding fouling Parker once he’s flung himself towards the basket while still affecting the shot. Given Parker’s tendency to throw himself to the ground in an attempt to draw a foul, this has often meant that the Spurs have had to scramble on their transition defense and the Lakers have been scoring easier transition points or getting second chances in transition.
Advantage: Spurs, unless Fisher is hitting shots.
Shooting Guard – Kobe Bryant vs. Bruce Bowen: Kobe has been phenomenal all season and especially in the playoffs. Not only does he continue to hit jumpshots at a remarkable rate, but not once has he exploded at an official over any missed calls (although he wasn’t as kind to Luke Walton).
Hopefully the referees will call some of the fouls that Kobe routinely receives on his drives, if only to shut the people up who say 30 points on 30 shots (that’s shooting at 50% with no free throws or 3pointers basically… and if you think about it, thats not all that bad).
Small Forward – Vladimir Radmanovic vs. Manu Ginobili: Ginobili is on the court for the Spurs to make something happen when the shot clock is winding down and there is no open shot for anyone. If he can’t create something off the dribble (or shoot a good percentage) then he is only hurting the Spurs, who might as well go with a younger player who can give them a spark off the bench like… Damon Stoudemire?
Haha, Oh wow! The Spurs are going to need an overhaul — but just don’t be surprised if they manage to turn this around quickly and remain competitive for that, thanks to the Lakers elusive 5th Championship.
On our side, Vladdy has really started to expand his non-perimeter game, and has shown he is a very good passer on the fast break or when driving to the basket.
Advantage: Even, unless Ginobili visits a magic healer and exchanges his soul for 1 more Championship.
Duncan shot at a 49.7 percent clip throughout the regular season. Against the defensive prowess of Tyson Chandler, he shot 42%, nearly an 8% difference. Over the series, Duncan is shooting the ball at a 43.9% clip, close enough to a 6% difference right? To fully demonstrate the difference: Kobe is going against the defensive specialist Bruce Bowen, Kobe is shooting a robust 53%, 7% above his season average.
Now, numbers don’t tell the whole story, but clearly, Gasol is doing something right.
Advantage: Spurs, unless Gasol does well offensively.
Good News: We’re home again, so that probably means that our bench players will have a better game!
Statistical Predictions -
Alright, I’m going to keep track of statistical predictions for the Post-Season!
Here’s how it works, copy and paste the below and enter your picks instead, Closest prediction wins. Posts will only be accepted before the game starts, in this case 6:00 PM PST.
20+ Points: Kobe & Sasha.
10+ Rebounds: Lamar & Kobe.
2+ Blocks: Lamar, Gasol and Turiaf.
3+ 3-Pointers: Sasha (Welcome back to L.A.).
Closest To A Triple-Double*: Kobe.
Point Margin: Lakers by 18.
Out On A Limb: Pop empties his bench in the 4th quarter, as the Lakers put this one away. Chris Mihm makes an appearance.
* a 20/10/6 will be considered closer than a 20/7/7 because player A is only short 4 assists while player B is short 3 rebounds and 3 assists, or 6 stat points in total, as opposed to 4 for plater A.
Game Information -
Radio: KLAC & KWKW.
Burning Questions -
Will Fisher start to show the same signs of age that the Spurs are?
Did anyone else notice Vladdy being in the game in the 4th quarter? What’s up with that? Phil Jackson never puts him during the 4th.
On the other hand, they are very, very old.