NBA: Underdog Spurs looking to even series (9:05 PM ET, TNT)

NBA: Underdog Spurs looking to even series (9:05 PM ET, TNT)

Much like Boston in its series opener, San Antonio despite little rest, came out and took the game to the Lakers.


2008-05-23

Much like Boston in its series opener, San Antonio despite little rest, came out and took the game to the Lakers. Though the Game 1 pointspread never came in doubt, the Spurs still find themselves down 1-0 in the West Finals. Nearly 60% of early bettors believe San Antonio wasted its best chance to win in L.A., backing the hosts as 6.5-point chalk.

For those who had the Spurs and the points, the 20-point lead, just past the mid-point of the third quarter was the equivalent of having the Giants against New England in the Super Bowl. For those who felt a bit greedier and played San Antonio on the money line, by the middle of the last period, it was like an episode of Nanny 911, you knew the outcome.

What San Antonio failed to do, was close out individual quarters against the Lakers. Basketball, by its very nature is an ebb and flow game, yet if a team is as ineffective as Los Angeles was for large chunks of time in Game One and still can hang around, they might put themselves in position to win.

In the opening 12 minutes, Tim Duncan and San Antonio was crisper and opened up 24-16 lead; however, but the end of the period led 27-24. The largest lead the Spurs were able to grab was 10 points in second quarter and managed to stay around that figure buy the half, leading 51-43. A combination of the San Antonio playing well and the Lakers not, opened an opportunity for the black-clad Spurs to lead 65-45 with 5:40 left in the third period. Phil Jackson went to a smaller lineup and as analyst Doug Collins correctly stated, the Lakers needed defensive stops and got them. By the end of the third were back in the ballgame down by only seven.

In the last stanza, San Antonio must have felt like a tidal wave from the nearby Pacific Ocean took them out to tide, scoring just 13 points, compared to the Lakers 24, in drowning to defeat. Though the Lakers fell to 9-3-1 ATS in last 13 games, they got what they needed to win. Kobe Bryant borrowed Dwight Howard's cape, to score 25 points in the second half. In series preview of the Western Final, bench play was listed as important and it was decisive in series opener. L.A. import Sasha Vujacic, personally outscored the Spurs bench (10-9), leading the Lakers to 21-9 edge.

Even with the loss, Greg Popovich's club is still 13-3 ATS in Conference playoff action. What has to change for the Spurs to win game two is a few adjustments and good fortune. Though it could be a risky move, putting Michael Finley back in the starting lineup might be a wise idea. Finley's been struggling with his shot, thus, getting him into the flow of the game early, might help him find the range. Finley's a below average defender, but without ability to score, is a real liability in this series because of matchups. This places Ginobili back on the bench, to give his weary body a few more minutes rest and possibly see how he can better attack the Lakers, more so on the perimeter. If Ginobili can score points off the pine, the other bench players may come in with more confidence. What is not good here is San Antonio's 3-8 ATS road record.

Sportsbook.com has the Lakers as 6.5-point favorites, with total of 193. Los Angeles has to feel great, since Lamar Odom and Derrick Fisher were combined 4-21 from the field. Chances are that won't happen again and Jackson's team is 13-2 ATS when they make 39 to 45 percent of their three-point attempts in a game this season.

These two teams have played UNDER five of last seven meetings. This doesn't ensure this will continue, as the Lakers 14-6 OVER after failing to cover. San Antonio has played more to norm, being 8-3 UNDER in last 11 playoff games as an underdog of 5-10.5 points.

TNT has the TV rights for the Western Conference Finals and Popovich-coached teams are 17-7 UNDER when trailing in playoff series.

StatFox Power Line- Lakers by 5

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