It’s official, the San Antonio Spurs and the Los Angeles Lakers will face off again in the NBA playoffs, this time in the 1st round. The Spurs and Lakers have dominated the Western Conference for the last 15 years, with Tim Duncan and Kobe Bryant leading the way. This greatness between the two teams has created a great rivalry, with many playoff memorable moments. Although Kobe is out for the remainder of the season, this series promises to be a battle.
Some of these memorable moments are some of the biggest in either franchise’s history. No Spurs fan will forget sweeping the Lakers in 1999, and closing down the historic Great Western Forum. Jaren Jackson turned the lights out on the arena, and the Spurs went on to win their 1st NBA title. Then their was 2003, when the Spurs beat the Lakers again in the playoffs, with such a heart breaking beating that Kobe was literally crying when the Spurs eliminated his Lakers. The Lakers had their moments as well, as nobody will ever forget Derek Fisher breaking San Antonio’s heart in 2004 with .04, easily the most famous moment of the rivalry. Can this year’s series give us another classic moment?
The Lakers had a bad season, but have played every bit the contending team the last two months. Even with Kobe out, the Lakers have plenty of star power, with Dwight Howard in the middle, and Steve Nash at point guard. As the Lakers started bad, and have turned it around as the season went along, the Spurs have been the polar opposite. The Spurs spent most of the season on top, looking every bit the title contender. But as the Lakers turned it on the last two months, the Spurs seemed to have turned it off. Injuries, inconsistency, and just plain fatigue have doomed the Spurs.
With one team riding a wave of momentum, but missing their star, and the other on a down swing, but finally might have their big 3 healthy, this promises to be a very interesting series.
For most of the regular season, the San Antonio Spurs have looked like one of the top teams in the league, easily in the top two of the Western Conference. Like the previous two season, this year’s Spurs looked deep, talented, and ready to coast right into the 1 seed in the playoffs. All was well in the Alamo City; San Antonio was ready for Fiesta and another playoff run. Well, the last month hasn’t been so smooth for the silver and black, and now the Spurs don’t look like a shoe in for the Western Conference Finals.
Part of this difficult time has been the fact that Tony Parker has been battling injuries. Parker missed a few weeks, and has been banged up even when he returned to action. Manu is also hurt, and will not be available for the start of the playoffs. On top of injuries, on Friday the Spurs announced that they cut Stephen Jackson, without any real reason why. It appears Coach Pop was trying to either cut a cancer out of the locker room, or to ignite a spark in a team that just flat out seems bored with the regular season.
The Spurs biggest struggle has come at the offensive end, only breaking 100 points 3 times in the last 11 games. This is a far cry from one of the top offensive teams in the league most of the season, although a lot of that can be contributed to the absence of Tony Parker a lot to do with this. Time will tell if Tony will be 100% for the playoffs, and if not, can any of the Spurs step up offensively. Another troubling stat, the Spurs have lost their last 6 road games. You have to be able to win on the road, especially now that the Spurs have dropped to the 2 seed in the West.
Maybe, just maybe the Spurs are bored with the regular season. Maybe they’re more excited about chicken on a stick at NIOSA, than they are about the last month of regular season games. But if they don’t snap out of this funk, then the party will be over quick for the Spurs, and the city.