Sunday afternoon marked the first game of many to come (hopefully) for the San Antonio Spurs in the 2013 NBA Playoffs. If you were to look through the box score, not taking a glance at the final score you probably would come to an assumption that the Lakers defeated the Spurs. They (Lakers) had a better percentage from the floor than the Spurs, and glancing at their big men, you would see they too had themselves a pretty good outing.
Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol combined for 36 points and 31 rebounds. The type of game that these two will need to have for the Lakers to be in the series with Kobe Bryant sidelined and tweeting away at home. The play from the big men didn’t prove to be enough as the Lakers were handed the loss.
San Antonio is not out of the clear. What helped them during game one was the long ball as well as the play from their bench, outscoring the Lakers bench 40 to 10. San Antonio got the victory, but we all know that there always is room for improvement. Here are a few points where I feel the Spurs need to do in game two to pick up the win.
- Continue To Push. Many San Antonio Spurs blogs that I go to on a daily basis have all said the same thing. San Antonio needs to continue to push the ball in transition. The Lakers bigs are to slow to react and get back on defense. When San Antonio gets a defensive rebound, the bigs should automatically channel the ‘run and gun’ theory and find a guard to push.
- Put Pressure On Bigs. Howard as we know is not a very good free throw shoot. He is down right awful. San Antonio must defend Howard better on the block. In game one, San Antonio showed Howard that he was not going to get anything easy around the rim. We can look to see DeJuan Blair, Matt Bonner, Tiago Splitter and Aaron Baynes possibly guarding Howard and possibly giving him a few ‘love’ taps. That is a lot of fouls that San Antonio can give up to ‘hurt’ and frustrate Howard. Doing this could possibly give Duncan a rest on Gasol as he is more than likely going to lurk around the top of the key.
- Move Around, Don’t Stay Static. One of the areas that San Antonio depended more on in game one from my stand point was settling for a three point shot, not showing any kind of movement. Yes, they do have the shooters to hit the shot, but they got here by moving the ball around as well as having motion on the offensive end. Doing so could make for much easier looks at the basket than having to force up shots.
- Make Nash Handle The Ball. Doesn’t make sense right? Why would you want one of the premier point guards to have the ball instead of taking it out of his hands? Nash only had three assists in game one. That is subpar for even him. He did manage to score 16 points but that was on 6-for-15 shooting. He has admitted to reporters that he is hobbled, hurt and can’t move very well. Advantage Spurs right? With a possible move that Popovich will seem to make with Danny Green guarding Steve Blake, this leaves Nash to try and defend and limit Parker and his speed.
- Bench, Bench, Bench. The San Antonio benched played the way many expect and hope can continue through-out the first round and beyond. They outscored the Lakers 40 to 10. The story from Sunday’s game one would have to be the play of Manu Ginobili who looked like Manu of old. He finished with 18 points in just as many minutes. Matt Bonner who finished with 10 points will have to continue to be aggressive. They will close out on him on the three point line, he has to take it inside with confidence and hit the sure two points.