ESPN KIA NBA Countdown Analysts Provide Insights on NBA Playoffs
On the April 21 edition of ESPN’s KIA NBA Countdown on ABC, analysts Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Jalen Rose, Bill Simmons and Michael Wilbon provided insights on the NBA Playoffs and previewed Game 1 between the Los Angeles Lakers and the San Antonio Spurs on ABC at 3:30 p.m. ET.
On the series between the Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs
I think the Spurs are not playing on top of their game right now. Ginobili, I don’t know if they are playing possum or not, but it’s hard for you to come back in the playoffs and be the same type of player you were when you haven’t had enough games to play. This is a perfect matchup for the Lakers. The one thing the Lakers do have is the advantage with Gasol and Howard. Steve Blake is shooting the lights out right now. Steve Nash is going to play today, so that will help the Lakers as well.
It’s the best matchup for the Lakers to give them an opportunity to advance. I think if they had a chance to play against Oklahoma City, they would get run out of the gym. When your second best big man is Tiago Splitter behind Tim Duncan and the Lakers have Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard, if you’re a Lakers fan, you have to be confident in that. But that doesn’t take into account Tony Parker’s penetration. What he’s going to do on pick and roll and Kawhi Leonard on the wing.
I do think the Spurs took their foot off the pedal a little bit and I could totally see them just coming in and blowing out this Lakers team. I do think this series is going to be determined to some degree by the officiating and whether they allow Gasol and Howard to get really physical. If they just pound the paint and really push the Spurs around, I think this could be a six or seven game series.
For the Spurs, they were playing so great. When you think about it, they had the best record in January and February. Then the injuries came – Ginobili, Parker got hurt. To me, they haven’t captured the magic they had back in January and February. This is not the same team to me and that’s why I think the Lakers have a chance to win.
I think the Spurs are a sleeping giant, a quiet storm that we all are overlooking. They have us right where they want us. We haven’t see Manu play, we don’t know what to expect. We haven’t seen T-Mac play, they picked him up right before the playoffs. Duncan has been terrific. And they are going to have Tony Parker. I think the Spurs are poised for a long playoff run and everybody is overlooking them.
Michael Wilbon on Coach Popovich:
There are so many angles to Gregg Popovich, who is something of a mystery. He isn’t a guy who is on sports talk radio all the time, you don’t necessarily know what he’s thinking. I think Pop might be so attuned to just what San Antonio does, particularly the couple of new players in the mix, that he might not go to that emotional touchstone this early in the playoffs.
Simmons on Tim Duncan:
I’m looking at Tim Duncan in this series. He had a big – I don’t want to call it a comeback season – but it was a retro Tim Duncan season. This is a guy who was the Finals MVP in 1999 – fifteen seasons ago. If Tim Duncan puts this Spurs team on his back and they win another title and that’s his fifth, you have to be talking about him as one of the six or seventh best players ever.
Johnson on Steve Nash:
Steve Nash is back with the Lakers. I think Steve gives them offense, a guy who can shoot from the outside, as well as keep the pace. The Lakers must slow the game down. They can’t get in a running game with San Antonio.
Simmons on defending against Carmelo Anthony:
It was exactly what we thought was going to happen in this series. They are going to let Carmelo Anthony beat them. They are going to guard him one-on-one, let him take thirty shots a game. I think what surprised me actually is that he didn’t take more shots because they were single teaming him the whole game. The way they are defending him, I think there’s a real chance he has a 55-point game in this series because they are basically saying, ‘you take your shots. We are going to shut down everybody else.’ I liked it. I didn’t work yesterday only because the Celtics’ bench let them down.
Johnson on the Los Angeles Clippers:
The Clippers were more physical than Memphis, they were quicker than Memphis and then they were better shooters than Memphis. On the offensive glass, the Clippers scored 25 points to only five points from Memphis. Unbelievable. And Chauncey Billups, who probably hasn’t played 14 games all season, had 14 points.
Rose on the Brooklyn Nets:
They have an All-Star caliber back court with Deron Williams, whose playing terrific and also Joe Johnson. They have an All-Star center, who has been the most effective center from start to finish all year on the offensive end in Brook Lopez.
Johnson on the Golden State Warriors
You cannot make mistakes in the playoffs and Golden State made a big mistake when they didn’t go over and double team Andre Miller. When a guy scores 18 points in the fourth quarter, you’ve got to make somebody else beat you and they didn’t do that.