Many thought prior to the start of the season that by the time this part of the playoffs came around, that the Los Angeles Lakers would be one of the teams looking to close out their first round series quickly in order to take that next step in their championship run. That stark reality is that this Lakers team never came close to being one of those championship contending teams this season and will be taken out by one that is, the San Antonio Spurs, at some point in this series. The Los Angeles Lakers will play today at Staples Center in hopes of extending the series for nothing more than professional pride.
San Antonio Spurs lead series 3-0 over the Los Angeles Lakers
Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA
Time: 4:00 pm Pacific Time / 7:00 pm Eastern Time
National TV: TNT Local TV: TWC Sportsnet, TWC Deportes
Line: Lakers +11
Three things to look for in tonight’s Game 3 from the Lakers:
The Lakers were hobbling coming in to the playoffs and tried to keep the roster together with pain blocking injections, tight wraps and heart. The patchwork effort has come completely undone for the Lakers and they will be without 5 players. Kobe Bryant (achilles), Steve Blake (hamstring), Steve Nash (hamstring and hip), Jodie Meeks (ankle) and now Metta World Peace will be all out for today’s game with injuries. Andrew Goudelock and Darius Morris will get the start again in the Lakers back court. Both Goudelock and Morris played well offensively on Friday, combining for 44 points.
Lakers and Spurs energy level and disposition:
This is one aspect of the game as fans that we really can’t relate to if we’ve never been in the same position, which 99% of us haven’t, at that is how to do these players get up for this game on both sides for different reasons.
On one side you have the Spurs that are already up 3 games to none and have had their way in the series. The Spurs are obviously superior to what remains of the Lakers roster so do they let up? On the other side you have a dejected and beaten Lakers team that’s fielding a team with scraps and duct tape.
The Lakers are coming off a 31 point beat down on Friday by the Spurs. If they start missing shots early and get behind, do they mail it in? Do the Lakers even want to put forth an effort from the outset and risk having to get on a plane to fly out to San Antonio to face the inevitable of losing to the Spurs in San Antonio in front of their home crowd. You’ll hear that they are professionals and will play their heart outs till the final sound of the buzzer, but subconsciously, is that really the case? While these are professional athletes, they are not exempt from normal human reactions.
Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard’s attempt to dominate:
Throughout the year, both Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard made comments through the media about the lack of ball movement, need of getting the ball in the post and cryptic statements of them needing additional shot attempts. Since, Kobe Bryant’s season ending injury, it opened up an additional 20 shots and 8 free attempts per game. This was either Pau or Dwight’s chance to take control of the team and dominate; both have failed to do so.
Since Kobe’s injury, Dwight and Pau have averaged 14 and 14.8 field goal attempts per game respectively. While Dwight has averaged 20.6 points per game and shot almost 56 percent per game in that time, it is closer to his career averages and not indicative of a players taking reigns of the team that is decimated by injuries. Pau has been the most disappointing in this 5 game stretch. Pau’s averaged a measly 12.8 points per game and shot a woeful 35 percent from the field. The moment was there for either of the Lakers bigs for the taking and both have passed. They get one more opportunity tonight to put forth a dominate performance and save the Lakers the humiliation of being swept.
– Fern Rea “@fullcourtfern” and “@raining3sdotcom“