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SportsHubLA and How to Win and Lose Against the Lakers

Yesterday Brian from SportsHubLA answered a few of my questions. Today Andrew from SportsHubLA gave me three ways to beat the Lakers and three ways to lose to them. I'm pretty sure Doc Rivers and company will cite this post at some point in the Finals. Enjoy.

Three Ways to Beat the Lakers

1) Make them a perimeter team.

The Lakers were sixth in the NBA this season in both three point attempts and three point makes.  They’re certainly capable of shooting the rock.  It’s also no question that if they get accustomed to launching from outside, the Lakers aren’t nearly as good a team.  Their strengths come close to the rim, in penetration, good spacing, and crisp passing.  When things are good, jumpers come from the inside out.  When they don’t, the ball just moves around the perimeter. 

2) Get physical. 

The Jazz enjoyed the most success (relatively speaking) in the playoffs against the Lakers.  They were also the team that made a continual effort to beat up the Lakers, particularly Pau Gasol.  When he caught the ball in the high post, they hassled him.  When he went up for a rebound, they bumped him.  At times, that style of play took Gasol out of the game, a scenario that sometimes repeated itself against San Antonio.  To his credit, the lanky Spaniard (is there a more gangly player in the NBA?) tended to bounce back at big moments, but he can be bothered.  As can the entire team.  Given the space to run their offense, the Lakers are almost impossible to stop.

3) Get on the glass.

Utah earned themselves endless second chance possessions by crashing the boards hard and consistently throughout all six games.  They didn’t convert on enough of them, but it wasn’t for lack of opportunity. Against San Antonio, L.A. either kept the rebound battle close or simply won it, which led to a shorter series.  You do the math.  For what it’s worth, the Lakers were better glass eaters than Boston during the regular season (by 2.2 pr game) and remain so during the playoffs (1.1) 

Three Ways to Lose to the Lakers:

1) Overplay Kobe.

Simply put, the Lakers move the ball too well and Kobe is too good at both recognizing the double and finding the open man.  There is a very clear diminishing return to trying to throw bodies at Bryant.  It might work for a trip or two, but over the long haul, it won’t.  The last time the Spurs were in town, they gave it a shot, and as a result Gasol and Lamar Odom were able to roam free like big cats on a wild life preserve.  Nobody bothered them. 

Along those lines…

2) Ignore the supporting cast.   

I’m not just talking about Gasol and Odom, but everyone else down the line.  The more players the Lakers can get into double figures, the more likely they are to win.  LO is going to get his, as will Gasol.  But when Luke Walton, Sasha Vujacic, Vlad Radmanovic, and/or Derek Fisher go off, forget about it.  The Lakers have an extremely multi-dimensional attack.  If Boston allows it to go off with all guns blazing, they’ll have trouble keeping up. 

Kobe can attract so much attention on the offensive end, but teams must recognize that the Lakers are dominant when balanced, and Kobe will play in a way to make it happen.  He’ll still take shots that aren’t quality, but the number of CIFSPG (Cringe Inducing Forced Shots Per Game) has gone down considerably.  If the defense gives him 18 looks, that’s what he’ll take.  But if that’s the case, he’s likely to have set up his teammates for a lot of great shots, and LA is likely to have piled up points. 

3) Let them open up the floor. 

When the Lakers are playing well, the offense allows for a great deal of space.  They’ll run slip screens with Kobe and Gasol, cut off Gasol in the high post, move off Kobe’s penetration, or let Odom lead them on the break.  Force them to put it on the floor more, and they’re vulnerable.  Relative to the alternative, they’re not a great one-on-one team.

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