By: Adam Soboleski
Saturday, May 19
San Antonio Spurs in 7 vs. Los Angeles Lakers: This is going to be a great series (or the early version of the NBA Finals). Here is a look at the Western Conference Finals. Lakers run: Let’s look at why the Lakers have won 15 straight. Yes, they are playing great basketball and probably eased up for the playoffs during the regular season. They have settled their differences. At the end of the regular season, the Lakers did not have a difficult schedule. They did not have to play any of the seven other teams left in the second round. Their second round sweep of Sacramento was impressive, however.
Spurs run: In that same period of the Lakers’ run, the Spurs have lost three games. They lost to Sacramento, who brought its ”˜A’ game to the Alamo Dome. They also lost to Seattle in a meaningless game (the last regular season game). The Timberwolves, the Spurs’ first-round opponent, played much better than the Trail Blazers, the Lakers’ first-round opponent. Level of play:If you watch the Spurs, they play like a team, better than anyone else in the league. The Lakers are clicking lately, but the Spurs have been clicking all year. They seem to be more comfortable with each other on the court.
Match-ups: Observers are saying the Spurs are the only team that matches up with the Lakers, but I see the Lakers the only team to match-up with the Spurs. Tim Duncan and David Robinson will slow down Shaquille O’Neal and Horace Grant. I will take the Spurs’ pair (two MVPs) over O’Neal (one MVP). The backcourt is not a mismatch as everyone thinks. Avery Johnson was a big part of the Spurs’ 1999 championship season. Kolbe Bryant does have the edge there obviously. The Spurs’ bench is the deepest in the league. The Lakers have not had great bench play. You need bench play to win, especially on the road.
Why the Spurs:The difference in this series will be home court. San Antonio has it. I’ve learned at handicapping playoffs over the years that go with your initial pick ti win the title before the playoffs. I’ve watched a ton of NBA this year and felt San Antonio was the best team going into the playoffs and have to stay with the Spurs. I will not get sucked in to picking the Lakers because of their run or because of the their hype here in the West. So let’s go with the Spurs in this series.
San Antonio Spurs —2Â½ vs. Los Angeles Lakers: In Game 1, let’s take the Spurs. They do play better at home, than on the road. The Spurs will be waiting and are fired up after the Lakers shot their mouths off before this series, but this series will go back to L.A. 1-1 though. Play Spurs —2Â½.
Friday’s record:1-0 (Tor. —1).
Playoff individual game record:25-25-2.
Playoff series record:9-1 (four series have been nailed on correct game).
Regular season record:127-128-5.
The Saber’s Edge: Major League Baseball
By Richard Saber
Saturday, May 19
Cubs over Diamondbacks
Brewers over Pirates
Phils over Cardinals
Rangers over Blue Jays
Twins over Orioles
Yanks over Mariners
Red Sox over Royals
Friday's record: 3-3
Season to date:154-147-5.