SAN ANTONIO SPURS (1-0)
at LOS ANGELES LAKERS (1-1)
Tip-off: Friday, 10:35 p.m. ET
Line: San Antonio -9, Total: 205.5
The Lakers attempt to regain their composure after a crazy first two days of the season while the Spurs try to start the season 2-0 when the teams meet on Friday.
Just one day after pulling off a huge upset against the Clippers on Tuesday's opening night, the Lakers took a beating in Oakland (125-94) by the Warriors. PG Steve Nash was out of the game with it being a back-to-back, and SG Kobe Bryant is still out while he recovers from last season's torn Achilles, and the Lakers could not hold serve with the offensive powerhouse that is the Warriors. The Spurs started out the 2013-14 season in their usual fashion, winning 101-94 against the Grizzlies and using their entire roster to do so, as 10 players logged 17+ minutes). But PF Tim Duncan was limited to only 1-of-6 shooting in 17 minutes after suffering a chest contusion, and is doubtful to play in this contest. This series was very lopsided last season, with the Spurs winning 2-of-3 games in the regular season and then sweeping the Lakers in four games during the first of the Western Conference playoffs. In those seven games last season, San Antonio was 5-2 ATS and the Under was 5-2. The Spurs are 6-2 SU (7-1 ATS) in their past eight road games versus the Lakers, but amazingly enough, these two franchises have played each other 149 times in their history, with the Lakers winning 75 and the Spurs winning 74.
Can the Spurs win big on the road versus the Lakers on Friday? For the answer, connect to The Platinum Sheet for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season.
Many experts thought aging San Antonio would no longer be among the elite teams of the NBA, but its run to the NBA Finals last season may have quieted those doubts for the time being. Last season, the Spurs scored an impressive 103.0 PPG (4th in the league) and did this by rotating their players and moving the ball quickly around the court while on offense. San Antonio also performed well on defense last season, allowing only 96.6 PPG (11th in the league) and held the Grizzlies to only 94 points on Wednesday night in the season opener. PG Tony Parker has been one of the best NBA point guards for many years now and has done very well in his 38 career games against the Lakers (17.7 PPG, 5.8 APG). San Antonio has shown that it is going to be cautious with PF Tim Duncan as he is nearly 38 years old, which is why the future Hall of Famer will not likely play on Friday night. He has averaged 19.3 PPG and 11.2 RPG over 54 career games against the Lakers, but has shot his second worst FG Pct. (46.2%) against them as well. If Duncan does end up playing, his minutes will most likely be restricted. SF Kawhi Leonard is becoming an elite player in this league, but has really struggled in his six games against the Lakers during the regular season, averaging 6.5 PPG on 13-of-32 shooting (40.6%) and 4.5 RPG. He did perform much better against the Lakers in the playoffs though, shooting 55.3% from the field and raising his averages to 12.3 PPG, 7.3 RPG and 1.5 SPG. The Spurs do rely on their entire roster to win games, and this was still evident in their first game this season as the bench scored 53 of the team's 101 points in that victory.
The Lakers' bench took over game one and ran the Clippers out of the Staples Center, but without PG Steve Nash playing on Wednesday night, L.A.'s offense was not efficient, shooting only 39% from the field. Nash’s replacement, PG Steve Blake, was only 4-for-13 for 10 points, four assists and a minus-14 rating. Los Angeles has now given up an average of 114.0 PPG over its first two games this season, and were 10th-worst in NBA defense last season by giving up 101.0 PPG. With Nash and Bryant out last game, the offensive workload was spread out more across the whole team, with seven different players finishing with double-digit points in Wednesday's loss. PF Pau Gasol had 12 points and seven rebounds, but played only 23 minutes. He has performed well against the Spurs in 40 career games (18.0 PPG, 8.6 RPG) but was only 6-for-27 (22%) from the field in his two regular season games against them last season. Nash has averaged 14.0 PPG and 8.0 APG in his 54 career games against San Antonio, but has not looked like himself since coming to the Lakers. His 6.7 APG last season (in 32.5 MPG) was his lowest total since the 1999-00 season when he was with the Mavericks. SG Nick Young was brought in during the offseason to help with the offensive workload, but has made just 5-of-19 shots (26%) with his new team, and per usual, has not really contribute in any other areas with 1.5 RPG and 0.5 APG.