Originally posted on Fox Sports West  |  Last updated 4/20/13
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. The promises, speculation and worry are finally over, which sets up another set of obstacles for the Lakers and Spurs to overcome. The 2013 NBA Playoffs have arrived and the slate is clean for the No. 2 and No. 7 seeded teams in the Western Conferences especially in Los Angeles but the pressure has been ratcheted up to ear-splitting volume. San Antonio has been a lock to make the playoffs since the beginning of the season, while the Lakers everybodys chic preseason choice to waltz to the Finals had to go down to the wire to just ensure postseason participation. The Lakers wont have their best player and team leader sorry, no Kobe Bryant return from the hospital bed miracles this time but theyll still put two future Hall of Famers on the floor every night in Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard. If Steve Nash can overcome his ailments, make that three. If that isnt enough to at least make it a great series with a great team, then the Lakers simply just dont belong as title contenders. The Spurs' task was made much easier when Bryants Achilles tendon ruptured against Golden State late in the season. Assuming Tony Parker (left ankle) and Manu Ginobli (right hamstring) are sufficiently recovered from their injuries, the Spurs trio trumps the Lakers. Ginobli while not as quick as he was before he started getting hurt on a regular basis is certainly still able to hit shots, handle the ball and play the type of defense coach Gregg Popovich needs to coach the Spurs to a fifth ring. And it sets up a quick series triumph for the Spurs, a team looking for its fifth NBA championship. But without any of their Big Three, the Spurs are likely toast against a Lakers team that went 20-8 down the stretch to claim the No. 7 seed. That, however, is why playoff basketball is such fun to watch unpredictability. With a healthy Bryant starring every night, the Lakers would have been a much more dangerous team, with Gasol, Howard and Nash performing their ancillary roles. Or would they have? Well find out during this series which opens Sunday in San Antonio but its not necessarily set in stone that the Lakers would have an easier time with or without Kobe. Now, Howard has done what hes said he would do if given the chance step up and take control of what was undeniably Kobes team. The offense is often run right through Gasol, one of the best passers in the game. And Steve Blake has given more offense lately than Nash has been able to with his assortment of injuries. And the Lakers have a real chance to advance to the second round without Kobe Bryant able to do anything but help coach the team.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Sanu: Halftime show played role in Super Bowl collapse

James Dolan is among potential group of investors of new arena for New York Islanders

Report: Rams, Clippers discussing NBA venue in Inglewood

Terrence Jones reportedly interested in joining Celtics

LeBron reverses course, says he ‘always felt good’ about Cavs

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Ole Miss tried to implicate Mississippi State in football scandal

Jamaal Charles could be on the roster bubble

Jimmy Butler on state of Bulls: ‘I just want to win at all costs’

Report: Giants will be ‘aggressive’ in trying to sign Jason Pierre-Paul

Report: Porzingis avoided ligament damage in ankle

Brooks Koepka meltdown includes whiff, stomping head off driver

Top 10 shortstops in baseball for 2017

The most dangerous NBA teams flying under the radar

Eat, Drink, Watch: Your award-worthy weekend planning guide

Grading the NBA trade deadline on the Vince Carter scale

Box Score 2/24: A night of NBA disrespect

As NHL trade deadline nears, seven teams who could be dealing

The 'Pete Rose instead of Kareem? Surely, you can't be serious' quiz

Streaming sports docuseries you don't want to miss

Teams that can prevent a Cavs-Warriors NBA Finals three-peat

The NFL off-season is a passer’s fancy

The Aesthetic: Pushing the boundaries of the three-pointer

NBA coaches who should be fired soon

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

James Dolan is among potential group of investors of new arena for New York Islanders

Top 10 shortstops in baseball for 2017

The most dangerous NBA teams flying under the radar

Eat, Drink, Watch: Your award-worthy weekend planning guide

Grading the NBA trade deadline on the Vince Carter scale

Streaming sports docuseries you don't want to miss

As NHL trade deadline nears, seven teams who could be dealing

The 'Pete Rose instead of Kareem? Surely, you can't be serious' quiz

Teams that can prevent a Cavs-Warriors NBA Finals three-peat

The NFL off-season is a passer’s fancy

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker