Lakers vs. Spurs adjustments: How L.A. must make San Antonio's defense pay

Ronald Martinez

The Spurs bullied the Lakers in the paint throughout Game 1, daring the Lakers to beat them from the perimeter. What do the Lakers do? Break through the barrier and make San Antonio pay for gambling.

The Los Angeles Lakers will try to bounce back after a Game 1, when the San Antonio Spurs imposed their will defensively. The Spurs dared the Lakers to beat them from the perimeter, packing the paint and gambling the Lakers couldn't hit enough shots from outside. It worked. The Lakers had to battle for every inch in the post, and now the Spurs will look to sweep their first two games at home.

How can the Lakers avoid a 2-0 hole before heading back to Los Angeles? They have to make the Spurs pay when they pack the paint.

Give Nash a chance, again

In his first game back in a month, Steve Nash was out of sync and missed plenty of open shots. The Lakers need to continue giving Nash an opportunity to get back into rhythm in Game 2 before changing their gameplan drastically. It's natural to expect an adjustment, but in Nash's case, it's worth playing the historical odds again with the quality of looks the Spurs were giving him.

Silver Screen and Roll: Lakers can't escape their own stupidity

Play No. 1

Pau Gasol sets a high screen for Nash, with Duncan sagging into the paint.

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Danny Green slides under the screen, but Duncan doesn't move up to challenge. He slides back to protect the paint.

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Nash pops up for the shot but misses a routine jumper.

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Play No. 2

The Lakers used their HORNS sets throughout the afternoon, but this was a new variation that should be visited again.

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Nash fakes back after misdirecting his defender into the key.

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Now, he has Antawn Jamison and Gasol as screens over the top,

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Nash steps into the shot open again but it's another miss.

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Play No. 3

The Lakers also ran the "Howard back-screen lob" play out of HORNS (breakdown here), but the Spurs were ready to pick up.

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There's the usual screen from Nash to Howard.

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With both defenders on Howard, that opens up Nash on the perimeter, but the result is another missed field goal.

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Play No. 4

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Nash was off for the night, but there's no reason to turn away opportunities like that when the team already has limited perimeter options. Maybe Nash's health is too much to overcome, but those were quality shots that can alter the Spur's plan to harass the paint.

Pau Gasol

Nash wasn't the only Laker left to take open shots, as Gasol spent much of his night open at the free throw line.

Play No. 1

The Lakers run their "layup" set out of HORNS, where the ball-handler goes around a Gasol screen to the rim while Gasol pops out to the perimeter.

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Duncan slides over, which shuts down the driving lane, but leaves Gasol to take an open jumper if Nash passes it back out.

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The space created of the play is great, but Gasol misses another well-executed opportunity.

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Play No. 2

The pick and roll with Gasol handling the ball and Howard screening is one of the few ways the Lakers had successfully sent Howard under the rim for a good seal. In this case, though, the Spurs weren't having any of that.

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Howard is boxed in by both defenders.

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With Howard taking both bigs into the paint, Gasol is left to finish the shot. Once again, he misses.

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Play No. 3

Given how aggressively the Spurs were attacking the paint on defense, Gasol has to be careful about trying to force a play that isn't there. Gasol had six turnovers in Sunday's Game 1. Here's one of them.

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Gasol has the ball in the post here in good position, but instead of taking Matt Bonner one-on-one, he forces a pass in traffic. When Gasol doesn't have Tiago Splitter or Tim Duncan on him, he needs to punish what should be a mismatch.

Also, settling for jumpers in rare situations where Gasol is single-covered in the post, as we see below, can't happen.

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Don't get disrespected

The Lakers cannot allow the Spurs to get away with disrespecting the Lakers from the outside again. Look at how many extra defenders they sent into the paint to pester Howard.

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The Lakers struggled to throw entry passes because of how many players swarmed around Howard.

On this play, Splitter actively fronts Howard. Gasol still attempts a pass while Howard is surrounded by five Spurs players.

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It goes about as well as expected, and Kawhi Leonard is awarded the steal.

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***

The Spurs threw the house at Howard in the post, and the remaining Lakers watched. The Lakers don't have many options offensively, so the plays where they get decent looks need to be finished.

If Nash can drain a few more open jumpers, Gasol is more aggressive and the team shoots better than a collective 20 percent from beyond the arc, the post can open up, and the Lakers offense can stop being suffocated by a Spurs defense that is ceding open jump shots to anyone that wants them.

- Game film provided by MySynergySports.com

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