So far, the Lakers have been cruising through the playoffs. After sweeping the high-scoring Denver Nuggets, they fended off the aggressive Utah Jazz. They are now making the defending champ Spurs look like a team of old men, as they have extended their lead in the series to 3-1 after stealing a game in San Antonio. With a team composed of 10 men over the age of 30, the Spurs are highly experienced, but they simply cannot keep up with the more fast-paced Laker team. Nevertheless, the Lakers will have to play their hardest on Thursday, as the Spurs have been known to make great comebacks. I had personally thought that they would lose to the young Hornets team, but they proved me wrong.
Although Charles Barkley credits Manu Ginobli as the best player on the Spurs, Tim Duncan has proven that he is still the team's most dominant player. So far, he has averaged 23 points and 18 rebounds per game. He has taken full advantage of Pau's soft defense and dominated the post in the last 4 games. In 2 games, he has had a 20-20, outhustling both Odom and Gasol. Every time he misses, Tim seems to get his own rebound and tip the ball back in. The Lakers have absolutely no answer for him under the basket. On the other hand, LA has Kobe. This year's MVP has averaged 27 points per game in this series. What's even more amazing is that he has taken only 6 free throws, so almost all of those 27 points have come from field goals. And on top of that, he's been guarded by one of the best defensive players in the league, Bruce Bowen.
If the Spurs are going to stretch this series out any more, they are going to need more offense from Ginobli. Sasha has played amazing defense on him so far, as Manu has averaged a mere 8 points in his team's 3 losses. On another note, Jordan Farmar has finally emerged after a horrifying Utah series. And Trevor Ariza is finally back after breaking his foot 4 months ago. I would definitely like to see more minutes for the defensive Ariza in place of the turnover-prone Luke Walton.
Here's to an easy victory for LA in Game 5 and a long 7-game series in the East!