Xavier Henry #7 of the Los Angeles Lakers drives against Kawhi Leonard #2 of the San Antonio Spurs at Staples Center on November 1, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. The Spurs won 91-85.
On Wednesday night, the Los Angeles Lakers face painfully long odds against the San Antonio Spurs at Staples Center. San Antonio, a team that was one Ray Allen three-pointer away from winning the title, quietly strolls into Los Angeles with the best record in the NBA.
They may not draw ratings like the Miami Heat or the Oklahoma City Thunder, but the Spurs have reached 50 wins in only 66 games. To put this in perspective, the Lakers have four more home losses, 20, than the Spurs have total losses, 16.
San Antonio is good.
“They were the best team we faced this year,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said at Tuesday’s Lakers practice. “They just beat us down.”
D’Antoni was obviously referring to the hearty 34-point beating the Lakers suffered in San Antonio on Mar. 14. The Lakers coach said the Spurs were the best team he’d seen this season immediately after the loss, and four days had not changed his mind.
Those who think about San Antonio as a boring team because of Tim Duncan’s humble personality fail to recognize great basketball. The Spurs move the ball better than any team in the league. Along with scoring 105.1 points per game, Duncan and company have the best point differential in the NBA at 7.3 points per game.
That means the Spurs consistently beat their opponents by a larger margin than any other team. The only reason San Antonio should be considered boring is that their competition cannot seem to offer enough resistance to make games interesting.
Simply put, the Spurs are good.
Recently, the Lakers have mustered wins against teams they had no business beating: Oklahoma City and Portland. To count the Lakers out may not be wise, but betting the house on the Lakers keeping up with the best team in the NBA may not be wise.
Again, the Lakers have depth issues at point guard. Jordan Farmar suffered a strain in his groin during Monday’s practice and will miss two weeks. With Steve Blake traded away and Steve Nash expected to sit out for the remainder of the season, the Lakers will look to a combination of Jodie Meeks, Xavier Henry and Kent Bazemore to assist in that department.
For the Lakers, the countdown started a long time ago: 16 games to go over a four-week period. Then, the nightmare after the “Dwigtmare” is over.