April 26, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; San Antonio Spurs power forward Tim Duncan (21) controls the ball against the defense of Los Angeles Lakers power forward Pau Gasol (16) during the second half in game three of the first round of the 2013 NBA playoffs at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Game Time: 9:30 PM CT
Television/Radio: ESPN/WOAI 1200
Why the Spurs will win…No Kobe Bryant and a Laker team trying to find an identity could be the key for the Spurs. San Antonio only has one game to go off of heading in to Friday night, but what we learned Wednesday is the Spurs can still shoot the ball effectively and everyone seems to mesh. The chemistry for this team is very beneficial, and if it comes down to the final few minutes, put money on the team that has been in those situations. The Spurs faced a Memphis team looking to make another deep run in the postseason, but they get a Lakers team coming off a blowout loss to the Golden State Warriors. It will be interesting to see how the Spurs match-up in the front court as Tim Duncan is listed as questionable, but the Spurs should be able to win this game in front of a national audience.
Why the Lakers will win… With two games already under their belt, the Lakers should be a bit more aware of their situation and could pull off the upset on a Spurs team with only one game knocked out. The Lakers will match the Spurs front court much better if Duncan is out of the equation, and LA isn’t getting bad production out of their bench. In particular, I’m curious to see how Xavier Henry does against San Antonio. He broke on to the scene in front of a national crowd on opening night and is, for the time being, Los Angeles’ leading scorer. This is an interesting Laker squad, who has a long way to go before they get back to prominence, but a win over San Antonio would be a good start as they try to erase that first round sweep they endured from San Antonio last season from their memory.
Prediction: Like a lot of Spurs games, San Antonio should get out to an early lead and coast in the driver’s seat all night. Los Angeles may try to rally late, but the Spurs ultimately flex their muscle and pull away to nab their second win of the season. I’ll say Spurs win this one by ten points.