The San Antonio Spurs swept the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round of the NBA Playoffs, making quick work of the shorthanded Lakers while not letting their guard down. The Lakers, ravaged by injuries, put up little resistance while Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili picked apart L.A.
Gregg Popovich had little to say postgame, opening up with his statement that "Obviously, it wasn't fair" in regards to playing the Lakers without Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Steve Blake, Jodie Meeks, and Metta World Peace throughout the series. Still, he credited his players for remaining focused throughout the series despite the Lakers' numerous injuries.
"We kept our focus every night," Popovich said "we played hard and followed the game plan." It was clear that the Spurs' plan was to key in on Dwight Howard in the paint as the Lakers lacked perimeter players, and it worked to perfection. Parker, Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard spent the series bouncing between swiping at Howard as he went to the post and their man on the perimeter, and the Lakers had no answer.
Eventually, the Spurs would frustrate Howard enough that he was ejected after his second technical foul in Game 4.
San Antonio will move on to the Western Conference semifinals to face either the Denver Nuggets or Golden State Warriors. The Spurs may be shorthanded as well as starting center Tiago Splitter deals with an ankle injury, but Popovich isn't worried about going deep into the bench San Antonio has built. "We've stretched the bench all year long, that's nothing new," he said.
Tim Duncan had nothing but praise for Popovich after the game, saying that it is a "honor" playing for him. Duncan also expressed optimism going forward, saying he likes the pace, the rhythm, and the health of the team as they advance through the playoffs.
When asked to describe the Spurs mentality facing a Lakers team without Kobe Bryant, Duncan deflected stating that the Spurs focus was only to win four games and not worry about who they are playing. "We came in here and we put our best foot forward. We respected what they had and what they could do." Duncan said as he summarized his thoughts on sweeping the Lakers.
The Spurs never let the Lakers steal a game or create any doubt on where the series was headed, remaining focused even if their opponent was shorthanded and an easy target. Now, they'll rest up while they await their opponent in the second round.
Business as usual for San Antonio.