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

Was firing Jeff Hornacek the wrong move for the Suns?

Panthers picked wrong day to play worst game of the season

Was Peyton Manning paid for Budweiser mentions?

Cam Newton walks out of postgame press conference

Eli did not look thrilled after Peyton locked up Super Bowl

Rick Reilly sends awkward tweet during Super Bowl 50

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Peyton Manning gives Papa John a kiss after game

Panthers' Josh Norman crying after losing Super Bowl

Peyton Manning ‘going to drink a lot of Budweiser’ after win

Where Peyton Manning ranks among Super Bowl era QBs

Peyton Manning declines to comment on possible retirement

Mike Carey not heard from again after being wrong earlier

Aqib Talib wipes out on NFL Network

Six best plays from Super Bowl 50

Five biggest boneheaded plays of Super Bowl 50

WATCH: Cam Newton gives questionable effort to recover fumble

Lions say Calvin Johnson's future still not determined

How Louisville basketball bungled their self-imposed ban

Ted Ginn Jr. whiffs on football twice on one play, results in Panthers turnover

Kony Ealy makes one-handed interception of Peyton Manning

Mike Carey gets another call wrong on incomplete pass in SB

Steph Curry beats Panthers' "Keep Pounding" drum

Did Beyonce almost fall down during Super Bowl halftime show?

WATCH: Panthers' Jonathan Stewart leaps over pile for TD

Aqib Talib commits three awful penatlies in first half of SB

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

Best and worst from Super Bowl 50

Six best plays from Super Bowl 50

Eli doesn't look thrilled as Peyton wins Super Bowl

Did Beyonce almost fall down during Super Bowl halftime show?

Curry to serve as drummer for Panthers

Report: Marshawn Lynch plans to retire

The 14 biggest plays in Super Bowl history

Five outrageous predictions for Super Bowl 50

QUIZ: Name the winning starting quarterback from every Super Bowl

The top six matchups that could decide Super Bowl 50

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