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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Lakers’ Win Over Spurs Highlights San Antonio’s Weakness Inside

The San Antonio Spurs have the best record in the NBA at 51-12 and a stellar .810 winning percentage. They have a five and a half game lead over the Mavericks for the best record in the West, and they have five more wins than the Eastern Conference leading Celtics. Despite their great regular season record, few people think they’ll win the NBA title. Even checking the NBA odds indicates that the Lakers, Celtics, and cry-baby Miami Heat have better odds to win it all. The reality is Sunday’s blowout loss to the Lakers highlighted San Antonio’s biggest weakness and the reason why few people are confident they can win it all.

Two days after embarrassing the Heat, the Spurs were thrashed by the Lakers 99-83. The Lakers got up by 21 after the first quarter, and they were up by 28 at the half. They were dominating inside both offensively and defensively. Andrew Bynum grabbed 17 rebounds in only 22 minutes and had three blocks, exploiting San Antonio’s lack of size.

The Spurs roll with one of the best starting fives in the league — Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Richard Jefferson, DeJuan Blair, and Tim Duncan. That’s a special group, with the big three having combined to win three championships. But in that lineup, the 6’7″ Blair plays power forward and Tim Duncan — a traditional power forward — starts at center. There’s little doubt that their combination is one of the best in the NBA, but the problem is against a team like the Lakers, their lack of size stands out.

The Lakers throw out a pair of 7-footers in Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol in addition to Ron Artest and Kobe Bryant who are big for their positions (6’7″ and 6’6″ respectively). They even can roll out Lamar Odom off the bench who is 6’10”. The Spurs, though they beat the Lakers twice before Sunday’s loss, have no answer for Andrew Bynum. He was able to grab rebounds and give the Lakers extra possessions offensively, and he constantly altered shots on the defensive end. He also got a few easy layups and dunks.

Sure it helps that the Lakers were making their shots while the Spurs were cold, but while shots can be dynamic, size is static. That’s the reason I think the Lakers are more reliable in a seven-game series than the Spurs, and a big reason why people are skeptical of San Antonio’s chances to win it all.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Bahram Mark Sobhani

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