Once again the Spurs and Lakers meet in the playoffs. Although they haven't played since 2004, there's been some great match ups between the two and the winner usually ends up winning the NBA Finals.
Both teams have combined to win seven of the last nine championships, the Spurs won in 1999, 2003, 2005 and 2007 and the Lakers won from 2000-02. They lost in the NBA Finals in 20o4 to Detroit.
The Lakers are deep and talented with Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, Vladimir Radmanovic, Luke Walton and Ronny Turiaf. Pau Gasol can hold his own down low against Tim Duncan, plus he can score and help Kobe out on offense if he's off his game. Odom must be consistent offensively if the Lakers want to win this series. The Spurs forwards play great defense. Tim Duncan can take over a game anytime and Kurt Thomas has done the little things whether it's defense or rebounding. But the Spurs are not as deep here as the Lakers.
The Lakers are solid in the backcourt with MVP Kobe Bryant, Derek Fisher, and Jordan Farmer. They're fast and can score. The Spurs are loaded in the backcourt, Manu Ginobli doesn't even start for them. Tony Parker is so clutch when it counts most, especially in the playoffs, Michael Finley provides depth and some scoring, and Bruce Bowen is the defensive stopper and can occasionally knock down the three ball. With the Spurs talent and depth here, I will give them the advantage in this department.
This is pretty much a toss-up. Phil Jackson and Gregg Popovich know what it takes to win, especially championships. Coaching in this series is going to come down to in-game adjustments. You know both coaches will have specific plans on how to stop each other's best players in Kobe and Duncan, but it's going to come down to adjustments, which I think Popovich is a mastermind when it comes to this. I'll give the Spurs a slight advantage here.
This should be a great series. NBA fans are in for a great Western Conference Finals. I expect each and every game to be a hard-fought, defensive, down to the wire battle. I really like the Lakers individual talent and offensive game, but the Spurs have all the intangibles. Their defense has been very good thus far and they seem to always play as a team. Plus, you have to give credit to Gregg Popovich, he always has them ready and prepared. I'll take the Spurs in seven.