Before everyone skips the rest of this article and goes straight to the comments section to admonish me about overvaluing our severely under-performing small forward please, I beg you, hear me out…

In the first two game of the New Orleans/San Antonio series, the Spurs offense looked lethargic, their defense looked suspect, and their defensive stopper Bruce Bowen looked, well, vincible

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is a great coach and, after going down 2-0, he made two key adjustments that helped turn the series around. One of the key adjustments was to switch Bowen off of Chris Paul and to put him on Peja Stojakovic, who had previously been lighting them up in the series. Needless to say, this switch changed the whole complexion of the series and eventually allowed the Spurs to squeeze the life out of the Hornets over the next 5 games.

The second change, an equally genius switch, was his decisions to insert Manu Ginobili into the starting lineup. This gave the Spurs another weapon in their half court offense who could not only spot up for the 3-ball but also create his own shot off the dribble. This really gave the Spurs offense a breath of life, as before they looked oh-so-predictable. With Ginobili’s defensive assignment being Morris Peterson, he was able to expend most of his energy on the offensive end as well.

Now, the smart readers are already figuring it out. They’re going “ooooh, this guy is saying Vladdy should be our Peja and force Pop to switch Bowen on him.” Yes, my smart readers, that is exactly what I am proposing.

These are the expected match-ups for Game 1

PG: Fisher-Parker

SG: Kobe-Bowen

SF: Vlad-Ginobili

PF: Odom-Duncan

C: Gasol-Oberto

Now for a moment, lets ignore the question of who’s going to guard Odom, and lets look at Vlad. When Peja was killing the Spurs he shot 2-4 from downtown in Game 1 and 5-7 in Game 2. In the last two wins against Utah, Vlad shot 2-3 and 3-5 respectively from downtown, so clearly this isn’t an preposterous proposition. If the Lakers can make him a priority on offense a little more, and get him 3-5 more 3 point FGAs, then he has the potential to emulate Peja’s Game 1 & 2 success.

And if he does, then boy do the Spurs have match-up issues.

Let’s see how this would work.

For all of the scenarios below Parker vs. Fisher is assumed, unless specifically noted otherwise.

Option 1, Put Bowen on Vlad -

They could go with Bowen on Vlad, and stick Ginobili on Bryant, but that would be an invitation for Kobe to “take what the defense gives him.” Now Ginobili is no slouch, but he definitely gives more on defense than Bowen does.

Result: Not a good idea for the Spurs.

Option 2, Put Udoka on Kobe, and Switch Bowen on Vlad -

This seems like a great idea at first. Udoka doesn’t hurt you on offense for the same reason Bowen doesn’t hurt you on offense, he can shoot the corner 3-ball very, very well. This means you can put Udoka on Kobe and Bowen on Vlad (or vice versa) and Bam, problem solved. Right?

Wrong! If you play Udoka and Bowen at the same time, then you simply cannot have Ginobili in the game at all because, with Parker guarding Fisher, Ginobli is now stuck guarding either Lamar or Gasol… Yikes!

Why is it so important to have Ginobili in the game then you ask? Because the Spurs half-court offense was very predictable without him.

Result: A very, very bad idea for the Spurs.

Option 3, Put Udoka on Kobe, and Switch Bowen on Vlad, and put in Ginobili for Parker -

This would solve the Ginobili vs. Odom or Gasol problem, and it might even be the best option that the Spurs have, but somehow I doubt that would go over too well with Parker.

Result: Possibly the best solution, but very unlikely.

Option 4, Tell Ginobili to man-up and guard Vlad -

If it were that simple, Pop would have done that in the New Orleans/San Antonio series and kept Bowen on Parker.

Conclusion -

I’m not saying that any of these above scenarios are going to happen, or even remotely likely for that matter. Personally I would start Sasha instead of Vlad, because that would provide the same Peja-like offensive production without the risk of Space Cadetness.

The point is people, Vlad is immensely important part of our starting lineup, and if he produces anything close to his pay grade, I would put money on a sweep.

As it is, I have the Lakers in 5, 6 at the most.

What do you guys think? Do you feel that Vlad can be the key for the Lakers?

  • Michael_23

    It’s time to Trevor on Tony Parker and shut him down like he did with Allen Iverson.

  • daboss1848

    well thought out – if not for vlad’s ability to remove himself from games with his inconsistency . . .

    imo, key here is LO – anyone the Spurs put on him will be either too slow afoot or too short in the post. LO outside has been scary good (good facilitator, good finisher); LO in the post has been scary bad (bad decisions, quick pass outs).

  • kb24b3stever

    yea he could but if that dont work in the 1st game i say phil should start with luke or ariza depends the way ariza plays,that would be great cuz now by putting ariza in the starting lineup it gives kobe rest on D why because now you could either put ariza on parker and fisher on ginobili or the other way around fisher on parker and ariza on ginobili i think ill stick with the second option and that would give kobe alot of rest on D and were not gonna have to worry about him getting in foul trouble and he just gonna have to focus on offense most of the time.

  • http://www.hard-wood.org/?cat=34 Billy Kupchak

    [Comment ID #36452 Will Be Quoted Here]

    werdy werd! :D

  • http://www.lakers.com LAKERS_in_6

    WE NEED TREVOR ARIZA TO GAURD MANU GINOBLI Or SASHA

  • e-bucher

    good point but i agree with daboss…lo is more important…

  • Remy

    good point too, but i don’t think pop would risk swtiching bowen against bryant, i think pop is too smart for that, but that does equal to the part where vlad must hit those threes

  • xtro

    Lakers in 6; y’all!

  • http://thelakersnation.com ThE NeXt FaRmAr

    lamar on duncan hes gonna dominate us thats not good we need drew back

  • LakersFirst

    [Comment ID #36452 Will Be Quoted Here]

    If Trevor is going to guard anyone, it’s going to be Ginobili.

  • http://thelakersation.com/blog PauKobeBynumDynasty

    Hey guys don’t forget about Trevor Ariza! He can guard Ginobili while Kobe’s on Parker. Fisher can help with parker and Bowen, Odom can defend Duncan and Oberto isn’t much of a threat so Gasol can double Duncan at times.

    We need to watch the 3 in this series. Leaving the SF alone (in which we have done alot i.e, Bowen 6-6 against us and Peja 10-13 against us) will hurt us.

    We need to beat the Spurs at their own game.

  • Short Diezel

    The MOST important thing is the Lakers stay aggressive.. if they do that they will get their star players in foul trouble, then its series over

  • DCLAKER

    4-1,LAKERS.Ariza will be highly important this series.

  • Keep Odom

    Yeah he is the Key! I agree 100%. If he doesn’t do anything offensively we are going to be playing 4 on 5. EVERYONE! has to step up and hit their open shots. Everyone!

  • Michael24

    how about

    fisher and sasha on parker

    ariza on ginoblii

    kobe on bowen or finely

    odom on duncan

    pau on oberto

  • e

    [Comment ID #36472 Will Be Quoted Here]

    in my opinion, that would be ideal but i doubt phil would do that and i believe phil would now more than me about this

  • http://myspace.com/sonicussj Whatsa

    DJ Mbenga: The Answer.

    lol jk

    I think Lamar Odom is the answer more than Radman.. but I think Radman still needs to step up.

  • http://89.com MambaKB24

    [Comment ID #36461 Will Be Quoted Here]

    relax, no need to cart in a knee-less 7 footer
    we have 2 of them in our lineup

    jonny made a mistake, pau will be gaurding duncan with LO on oberto

    oberto is nothing to worry about on d, which means lamar gets to help on pau, rebound, and push the ball

    paus biggest strength (other than his finess) is his fundementals, which makes him a great matchup for duncan
    he tall, long, and moves his feet

    relax LakerNation, 6 games from now, we will be asking who will gaurd Kg or Ben Wallace

  • fuu uck spurs go laks

    c’mmon lets bring arizzaa! to our game!
    i dont know how the spurs are gonna ract but it depends in who is killing us if its parker put kobe/ariza on him
    if its ginobili the same and if its duncan hurt him and send hom to the bench haha
    i dont think anybody cant stop duncan but ronny might do a good job on him pau gasol doesnt convince me i think he’s not a matchup defensively against duncan but odom could be extra aggressive (offensively otherwise he’ll be on the bench for foultruble)and draw some quick fouls on duncan but the lakers should run and attack the basket like baddass if we do that get ready for the pistons (celtics are fags they cant win on the road)

  • http://lakernation kauaimamba

    [Comment ID #36481 Will Be Quoted Here]
    Digging the attitude mambaKB24!Whoever is guarding Oberto can help out on Duncan,Kobe and Sasha can D-up Ginobli and as long as Fish keeps Parker from getting into the lane too much I dont see them being able to score enough points to beat us.

  • fred0s

    Lakers should start either Vujacic or Ariza because a) Vujacic seems to be more consistant than Vlad, so they wouldn’t leave him alone as much as Vlad or b) Ariza would help take some defensive pressure off of either Fisher (with Parker) or Kobe (if he is asked to guard Ginobli).

  • FILOSOFREAK

    The series is going 7!!!

  • Adamas

    i think a big plus in this series will be not to double duncan. let him get his 20 points but dont let him make those passes out of the post that he does when he is double teamed

  • Adamas

    [Comment ID #36483 Will Be Quoted Here]

    ben wallace?

  • Lakerboi

    Ariza needs to come off the bench until he is 100%. I think Radman should start, but keep a close eye; if he is not showing up, pull him out after the first quarter.

  • LakerPower

    Wow, that 1st post was just stupid. Do people understand basketball sometimes?!?! I mean c`mon Ariza on Parker? D Fish plays just fine on D and can put a body on Parker. He won’t stop him but it will be enough to slow him down, as what he did with Williams in game 4 and 6.

    Now what you want to do with Ariza is put him on Ginobli, that is the best move for Ariza. He has the long arms and height to contest and block shots and slow him down. You cant stop Ginobli but you can slow him down.

    Please make sense before making post like that.

  • jack

    [Comment ID #36453 Will Be Quoted Here]

    sure thing. i think the factor will again be LO.

    btw, vlad is not peja (at all). so didn’t really digest the article.

  • kobe-wan kenobi

    u guys are out of your mind…
    spurs will be really tough to beat…
    bowen will not, defend vlad…whatever happens
    bowen=kobe
    and no a sweep can not happen… only someone who never watched basketbhall can think we sweep the spurs

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

    [Comment ID #36510 Will Be Quoted Here]

    i know he isn’t at all, i’m just saying if he can emulate the succrss that Peja had in the first two games. . then the Spurs are in deep trouble, so in that sense he could be our key

  • http://lakers.topbuzz.com Lakers2410

    You guys are underestimating the Spurs too? Nice keys Jonny, but let’s face the facts, Gregg Pop is a very good coach, not as good as Pj but, still! He’ll make the adjustments no matter what we throw at him, we need to act smart and really think on offense and work the Triangle! Odom is key, along with Ariza playing some great defense on (at best) Ginobili, and with Ariza exploding to the rim(along with Kobe, Odom, Fisher, etc.) we’ll get the Spurs’ players in foul trouble and we’l get some easy shots or some earned free-throws! If that doesn’t work, then have Kobe drive and have Fisher and Radman/Vujacic at the side three-point areas and make them pay for leaving even one of them open!

  • http://swishtheball.net kobe-drew-pau-l.o.-fish

    kobe and vlad both have to do really good

  • http://89.com MambaKB24

    [Comment ID #36495 Will Be Quoted Here]

    RASHEED wallace

  • http://www.hard-wood.org/?cat=34 Billy Kupchak

    our space cadet played REALLY WELL in last night’s game! :D

  • MILO