The Lakers experienced yet another embarrassing loss last Friday against the San Antonio Spurs. Luckily for the Lakers, they get an immediate chance at revenge as they take on the Spurs again, this time at Staples Center.
Unfortunately for the Lakers, the continual flow of injuries has continued, and once again it has hit Jordan Farmar. Farmar will miss another two weeks with a groin strain and he will be missed with the Lakers having to deal with Tony Parker.
The Spurs come into this game on a ten-game winning streak, and sit atop the Western Conference with a 50-16 record. The Lakers come in with a 22-14 record.
Tim Duncan continues to be the anchor for this Spurs team. What he has lost in athleticism and speed, he more than makes up for with his knowledge, skill set, and anticipation, particularly on defense.
When combined with the exceptional defense of Kawhi Leonard and Tiago Splitter doing all of the dirty work, it makes the San Antonio Spurs extremely difficult to score on, as evidenced by the Spurs ranking sixth in the NBA in points allowed.
Pau Gasol had a solid game against the Spurs last week and he will need to do the same this time against the tough Spurs big men. The key for the Lakers, however, could be Ryan Kelly as his ability to take Splitter out of the paint could help free space for Gasol down low.
Wesley Johnson will be hard pressed to get going offensively in this game as Leonard is one of the best defenders in the league. He will have to do his work on the boards and knock down open jumpers.
Tony Parker is one of the best point guards in the NBA, and he is the engine of this Spurs offense. His ability to get in the paint at will has given the Lakers headaches for years.
He is a great finisher in the paint, with his signature floater, and always seems to find his open shooters outside.
Which brings us to Danny Green, who had 15 points, all on three-pointers in the last game against the Lakers. Green is an excellent athlete and one of the top shooters in the league.
Kendall Marshall has to control this game by getting into the paint and setting up his teammates. He also needs to hit his open shots, something Jodie Meeks doesn’t struggle with.
Meeks will need a big game if the Lakers are going to upset the Spurs. His defense will also be huge as he is likely to guard Parker, a tough task in itself.
With Manu Ginobili, Marco Belinelli, and Patty Mills all coming off the bench as well, the Lakers guards can not afford to have an off day as any of the Spurs guards can catch fire.
Keys To A Lakers Victory
Win The Three-Point Battle: The Lakers and Spurs are two of the three most prolific three-point shooting teams in the league. In their meeting last week, the Spurs destroyed the Lakers from deep, making 13 to the Lakers four.
The Spurs have a plethora of shooters, making them difficult to guard, especially for a defensively-challenged team like the Lakers. Marshall, Meeks, Kelly, and Johnson will have to shoot much better.
The three-pointer is the great equalizer in basketball. If the Lakers want to take out the superior team in the Spurs, they are going to have to make it rain from deep.
Second Chance Opportunities: The Spurs are an excellent defensive rebounding team, and the Lakers are not great on the offensive glass. But with the Spurs so tough defensively, the Lakers will have to create some second shot opportunities to get points up.
Additionally, the Lakers have to control their own defensive backboards. The Spurs grabbed 18 offensive rebounds, which was double their season average in the last game.
Everybody has to crash the boards for the Lakers. Guys like Meeks, Johnson, Xavier Henry, and Kent Bazemore are capable of grabbing big rebounds in crowds.
Kendall Marshall: With Jordan Farmar sidelined again, all of the point guard duties will again fall on Kendall Marshall. Marshall thrived in this role earlier this season and the Lakers need him to get out of this slump.
His assist numbers have continued to be solid, but his defense will be key against a Spurs team with no one to hide him on, and his shooting has to pick up because the Lakers need all the points they can get.
The Spurs are a smart team who will force Marshall to beat them from outside. Marshall will need to not settle for the jumpers and attack the paint. It is on him to get the rest of the Lakers going.
San Antonio Spurs (50-16) @ Los Angeles Lakers (22-44)
7:30 PM PST, March 19, 2014
Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
TV: TWC SN, NBA TV
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)
Spurs Projected Starting Line-up
PG: Tony Parker
SG: Danny Green
SF: Kawhi Leonard
PF: Tim Duncan
C: Tiago Splitter
Key Reserves: SG: Manu Ginobili, PF: Boris Diaw, PG: Patty Mills, SG: Marco Belinelli
Lakers Projected Starting Line-up
PG: Kendall Marshall
SG: Jodie Meeks
SF: Wesley Johnson
PF: Ryan Kelly
C: Pau Gasol
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