Thunder forward Kevin Durant has come second in the draft and MVP votings, but nobody in the NBA can touch him nowadays when it comes to pitching products - whether it's shoes, video games or soft drinks. He leads our Commercials Rankings and No. 2 (Kobe Bryant) is not even close.
- Staying healthy. We have been here before with the ancient Spurs and it has not ended on a good note for the most dominant regular season team over the last three years. San Antonio's Top 3 players are playing with smoke and mirrors. Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili are laboring and Gregg Popovich tried to preserve them, but now they must stand up and try to win 16 games.
- Parker will have to live in the paint. If he does, the Lakers have no chance because he will score 20-plus points and find spot-up shooters. If Parker is healthy, nothing the Lakers will employ can stop him.
- Three-point shooting. The Spurs shoot the three ball better than any team in the league. Their primary shooters – Danny Green, Gary Neal and Matt Bonner – will light the Lakers up if left alone.
- Pressure wings. The Spurs must pressure the Lakers guards including the hurt Steve Nash. They also must smother the perimeter players when they are trying to feed Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard. Those two must score 20-plus each to give the Kobe-less Lakers any chance of winning any games in this series.
FOR LA LAKERS:
- Defensive transition. The Lakers have struggled here all season and I can't see it changing against the Spurs in the postseason.
- Outside shooting. Nash, Steve Blake, Metta World Peace, Antawn Jamison and Jodie Meeks will decide this series plain and simple. The Spurs will double down defensively and dare the Lakers to make shots thus taking away the interior scoring of Gasol and Howard. The Lakers will make it interesting if this occurs.
- Howard and Gasol must dominate the series on both ends. I would assume they will not get help against Duncan in the post to protect against the snipers outside, but on the other end they must score and force Duncan into less minutes and foul trouble.
- Bench production. The Lakers must get quality production from everyone to make up for the loss of Kobe Bryant. Mike D'Antoni is notorious for ignoring his bench, but that would be suicide against a team that will go 11 deep.