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Reversing The Trend

The months of October, November, and December were very kind to the Lakers. Of the first 33 opponents on the Lakers' schedule, only eight currently sit above the .500 mark. Yet despite the easy early schedule, the Lakers (32-13) are two games behind last year’s pace. And with 24 of their remaining 37 games against plus-.500 opponents – including 12 on the road, where the Lakers have a 2-5 record against winning teams on their homecourts – their hold on the 2nd seed in the Western Conference is hardly set in stone.

Are there really some chinks in the armor of the two-time defending champs, or is this merely a case of midseason complacency? Let’s take a look.

Defense

The Lakers rank tenth in points allowed per 100 possessions, down from fourth a year ago. Over the past few weeks, the coaching staff has implemented a few wrinkles to the team’s system, which include a focus on funneling ball-handlers baseline into the long arms of Andrew Bynum. With Bynum as the last line of defense, the Lakers are flooding the strong side with help, placing a second and sometimes third defender between the ball and the rim, with mixed success.

Los Angeles ranks fourth in opponent field goal percentage at the rim, according to Hoopdata.com, but their system of aggressively preventing points scored in the paint by way of dribble penetration has at times left them vulnerable to quick ball-reversals – resulting in open outside looks.

A year ago, Los Angeles finished first in three-point defense, limiting their opponents to 32.8 percent shooting from deep; this season, the Lakers are fifth. The data is clear:  The Lakers are 25-4 this season when holding their opponents below 40 percent from three (which is actually 4 percentage points higher than the league average allowed) and just 7-9 when their opponents equal or exceed the same mark from that distance.

Also troubling is LA’s transition defense. Last year’s Lakers were 6th in fast-break points allowed per game at 12.6; this year’s edition is 21st, ahead of only Charlotte, Houston, Detroit, Washington, Sacramento, Memphis, Minnesota, Toronto, and Golden State. The Lakers have shown a fundamental weakness to get back and contest at the basket, giving up easy layups and wide-open catch-and-shoot opportunities.

Energy

According to TeamRankings.com, Los Angeles is plus-5.9 points in average margin through two quarters, far and away the best mark in the league. The Lakers fall to tenth in average 3rd quarter margin (1.2), and trade buckets (0.0) with their opponents in the all-important fourth quarter. Conventional wisdom tells you that the Lakers’ age has a lot to do with them fading over the course of 48 minutes.

Can the Lakers reverse this trend? If Jerry West is to be believed, the Lakers are near, or past, the point of no return.

Said West: “I don’t think the Lakers will be good for much longer. You can keep a car running for a long time by changing the tires, etc. You can’t change a player’s tires.” West added that many of the Lakers’ current players are “getting long in the tooth.”

Perhaps it’s the enthusiasm of third-year coach Erik Spoelstra, or the seemingly endless energy of LeBron James, but it’s worth noting the Heat lead the league in average third quarter margin (3.2).

Kobe

Whatever you think of Kobe Bryant, the Lakers offense, first in points scored per 100 possessions, still relies on the spacing achieved by Bryant on the strong-side triangle, and at the weak-side pinch post. He ranks third in the league in total field goal attempts, and while most statistical analyses would conclude that Bryant is little more than a high-volume scorer, there’s still a segment (however small) of NBA decision-makers that regard Bryant as the best player in the NBA.

Before Friday night's meeting between the Lakers and Nuggets, I spoke with an Eastern Conference scout who insisted Bryant is as good as ever -- as good as his virtuoso performances of three years ago.

Bryant ranks 14th in points scored per isolation possessions (1.03), according to Synergy Sports, which logs every possession of every NBA game. Likewise, Bryant derives 16.3 percent of his offense off post-ups, shooting 47.9 percent on such situations, and ranking 30th at 0.95 points scored per possession. Bryant’s per game numbers are down, especially his three-point accuracy, which has fallen for the fourth straight year, but that decline is somewhat offset by an increase in shots attempted between 10-feet and the immediate vicinity of the basket.
 
Through Monday, Bryant leads all shooting guards with an average of 3.4 attempts within that distance -- more than double his average of 1.5 during his lone-MVP season in 2007-08, when he averaged 5.9 more minutes per game. This bodes well for LA’s future, as Bryant is money in the lane, at the elbows, and also if he gets to the baseline.

By the numbers, the Lakers are one of a handful of teams among the league’s top 10 in both offensive and defensive efficiency -- and fourth in point differential, the best predictor of future success, at plus-7.04. Still, signs of slippage are evident, strengthened by the fact that LA is 5.5 games behind the Spurs and unlikely to close the gap due to an unforgiving schedule to close out the season.

Comments, questions, or criticisms? Email Brandon, or follow him on Twitter.

Comparing Two Very Different Young Point Guards

Locked in an epic first-round series during the 2009 playoffs, Boston?s Rajon Rondo and Chicago's Derrick Rose demonstrated on a grand stage why they will soon stake their claim alongside Chris Paul and Deron Williams as being among the NBA?s elite point guards.

Rose, who is a much more advanced scorer than Rondo was at the same stage of his career, struggled earlier in the season to find a balance between scoring and distributing the ball, but found his rhythm in seven playoff games versus the then-defending champion Celtics. He averaged 19.7 points and 6.4 assists while shooting 49.2 percent from the field and 80 percent at the line ? narrowly outperforming Rondo as a scorer and shooter.

Rondo?s postseason performance was extraordinary. On the heels of a regular season in which he put up career highs in points, rebounds, assists, steals, and field goal percentage, Rondo took his game to another level in the playoffs. In 14 total playoff games versus the Bulls and Magic, Rondo averaged 16.9 points, 9.8 rebounds, 9.7 assists, and 2.5 steals ? nearly joining Oscar Robertson and Jason Kidd as the only players in NBA history to average a triple-double for an entire postseason.

Each seems destined for greatness. Rose is two years younger than Rondo, which should give him the edge. But Rondo is somewhat of a late bloomer after a bizarre two-year stint under Tubby Smith at Kentucky, a rookie season in which his minutes were senselessly yanked around, and a one-year apprenticeship in the shadows of the Big Three.

While you can?t go wrong with either player, RealGM executive editor Chris Reina and I have exchanged several emails over the past six or seven months debating which player will emerge as the better point guard. I like Rondo. Reina prefers Rose. Below, we?ll tell you why.

The Case For Rondo ? by Brandon Hoffman

Rajon Rondo is unquestionably better than Derrick Rose. When it comes to hype, though, Rose is the popular pick. Selected first overall in the 2008 draft, Rose was a near unanimous choice for Rookie of the Year, despite finishing a distant sixth among rookies in John Hollinger?s Player Efficiency Rating.

Offensively, Rose scores more per 40 minutes, but Rondo puts up points more efficiently. Rondo shoots better from the field, mostly because he finishes a higher percentage of his attempts inside (62.1% on shots in the immediate basket area) while Rose has the edge in effective field goal percentage (which adjusts for the fact that a three-point field goal is worth one more point than a 2-point field goal), and is far better from the line. All told, Rondo is more efficient while Rose takes up a higher percentage of his team?s offense. So I?ll call it a draw.

Rondo gets the nod over Rose as a playmaker, and while Rose can cut through opposing defenses almost at will, he is still a notch below Rondo in that aspect of the game. Rondo has terrific speed and ball-handling ability - along with excellent court awareness ? which makes him a terror on the drive. Cross-court bounce passes, baseline slings, kick-outs, interior-drops, full-court lobs, strong and weak handed dimes on the move ? you name it, Rondo has every pass in his arsenal, and does a good job of delivering the ball so that Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Co. can catch-and-shoot with no extraneous movements.

Rose, by comparison, isn?t particularly good at creating scoring opportunities for his teammates. He?ll make the simple pass ? like drive and kick-outs, or ball reversals to open shooters ? but he needs to show better judgment when he drives the ball into the paint. To be fair, Chicago runs a pick-and-roll heavy offense that's poorly tailored to Rose?s strengths, plus his supporting cast pales in comparison to Rondo?s. Still, Rose?s court vision leaves a lot to be desired, and he lacks the creativity that seems inherent in elite point guards.

Defensively, well, there?s really no comparison. Rondo is a great defender as evidenced by the defensive acclaim he received in this year?s GM survey. He came in as the fourth best perimeter defender and split with Kobe Bryant for the league?s best on-the-ball defender. He tends to gamble too much, especially when defending the screen-and-roll, but his length and exceptional lateral quickness, combined with his competitiveness, make him an excellent defensive player. Statistically speaking, he finished fifth in the league in steals, and third in defensive rebound rate among point guards.

From a physical standpoint, Rondo once again has the edge. Both players possess awesome explosiveness, with Rose being the better leaper of the two. However Rondo?s incredible wingspan and large hands allow him to play much bigger than his size. Because of this, the difference in sheer athleticism between the two isn?t as far apart as one would be inclined to think. Specifically, Rondo is a terrific perimeter defender and rebounder thanks in large part to his 6-foot-10-inch wingspan. Moreover, his ability to finish at the rim is aided by his freakishly large hands (reportedly the largest hands the Celtics current training staff has ever measured), which enable him to palm the ball off the dribble, absorb contact, and maintain ball control while elevating to the cup.

In sum, Rondo?s talents cover the entire scope and possibilities of the game. He can do almost everything at the highest level ? rebound, pass, dribble, and shut anyone down on defense. I?ll concede that Rose will likely become a better scorer. However let?s not lose sight of the fact that Rondo and Rose are point guards. Teams rarely win championships when their go-to scorers are under 6-foot-6.

The main question from here is whether Rose can match Rondo?s versatility. I have my doubts. There are all sorts of basketball abilities that can be taught and refined, but you can?t teach length, anticipation, creativity, or competitiveness. Rondo has all of those in spades, plus a flair for the dramatic that manifests itself in big games. Of course, as noted above, you can?t go wrong with either player, but if I can only have one, I?ll take the point guard who can do it all and find people to fill in the blanks.

The Case For Rose ? by Christopher Reina

My preference of Derrick Rose over Rajon Rondo on the objective level of which player will have the superior individual career is somewhat problematic for me because I actually like Rondo more overall on the subjective level. Rondo is endearingly enigmatic and has become the most indispensable part of a championship contending, veteran-laden Celtics team.

Brandon makes a compelling argument why he believes Rondo is the superior player and he might just be the better fit for what Boston needs, but if I had to start a franchise from scratch with either Rondo or Rose, here are the five main reasons why I would unwaveringly go with Rose.

1. The Purer Basketball Player

From his AAU days in Chicago to his successful freshman season at Memphis and ROY campaign with the Bulls, Rose has always seemed exceptionally mature mentally, physically and also in terms of skill set. He is advanced in every aspect of his game (except for his jumper) in the same way guys like Kobe Bryant, Jason Kidd and LeBron James were at an identical age.

?Late bloomers? like Rondo usually peak at a lower ceiling than the aforementioned prodigies, with many more Patrick Ewings, David Robinsons and Shaquille O?Neals than Hakeem Olajuwons. I believe this is especially true of point guards because every single great at the position had a remarkably high basketball acumen and were great almost immediately.

2. More Dominant Athletically

As uniquely athletic as Rondo is with his wingspan and those freakish hands Brandon mentions, Rose is built broad like a tank and is almost essentially a 6?3? version of LeBron James. He can impose his will on opposing players, which we?ve already seen glimpses of while he plays against opponents that are a decade older than him. He will eventually learn how to take great advantage of that physical superiority to become unstoppable the same way we?ve seen from LeBron and Dwight Howard at their respective positions.

Rose already does a much better job drawing fouls when he penetrates in comparison to Rondo, which invaluably creates foul trouble for opponents and creates easy points from the line.

I don?t legitimately expect Rose to ever challenge Rondo as a complete defensive player, but I do expect him to follow a similar trajectory as we?ve seen from LeBron. Rose will eventually learn the intricacies of being a very good defensive player and will have an on/off switch where can be suffocating defending the perimeter and also be an occasional help shotblocker, even if it is based on his strength and athleticism alone.

Rose also can be counted on to defend shorter swingmen, which is something Rondo isn?t really equipped for due to his lack of height and more slender frame.

3. Superior Shooter

Even though Rose has a long ways to go to become a dependable jump shooter and even longer to develop into a legitimate three-point shooter, he is unquestionably the better shooter already. He shot 78.8% from the line as a rookie, while Rondo has shot 64.7%, 61.1% and 64.2% in his three full seasons.

Jason Kidd came into the NBA shooting in the high 60% range, but was soon consistently in the high 70% and low 80%, which I don?t expect Rondo to ever reach no matter how many summers he spends with Mark Price.

Rondo?s shooting isn?t currently a severe liability because he isn?t the main focus for opposing teams.  Paul Pierce and Ray Allen are dangerous perimeter scorers, creating open lanes for Rondo to operate and post that efficient field goal percentage.  Even an offensive player of LeBron?s caliber occasionally struggles due to an inconsistent jumper due to how much focus teams dedicate to him on that end of the floor.

If Rondo was the lead offensive option, I believe he would be fairly easily neutralized and this is the single-biggest reason why I believe Rondo cannot be considered a franchise player.

Rose, on the other hand, has all of the same abilities to penetrate and get to the bucket, while projecting as at least an above average jump shooter that must be challenged.

4. Leadership Quotient

Though quiet at this stage in his career and naturally shy, Rose brings a quiet confidence and calm to the floor, with the full trust of his teammates. He doesn?t have any of the same extroverted characteristics as a Magic Johnson or Gary Payton, but has the reserved likability of a Kidd. From the minute Rose stepped onto the floor of the Berto Center, the Bulls have been his team and all plans revolve chiefly around him.

Rondo has been and continues to be the little brother of a team of All-Stars. He seems to be more tolerated than well-liked by his teammates and by the time KG, Pierce and Allen are gone, Rondo will be an untested leader at the age of 25 or 26.

5. Remaining Potential

Most players are about as good as they?ll ever be by the time they?re 22 or 23, Rondo?s current age, meaning I think we?re seeing him at his essential peak. Rondo will likely make some marginal gains as a shooter, but an inevitable drop in explosiveness will all but cancel that improvement out. I don?t think we?ll see Rondo have a PER run in the 20?s like we saw from Payton between ?97 and ?03, who probably is the closest recent comparison minus the height differentials.

Rose had a similar rookie season as Kidd?s back in ?95 with Dallas, albeit one year younger, with superior scoring numbers and inferior rebounding and steal numbers. I would be utterly shocked not to see an extended run in the low to mid 20s in the PER department for Rose, while being the unquestioned best player on his team.

As Brandon highlights, Rose was sixth amongst rookies in PER, but had a superior mark in the category as a rookie, at the same age or younger than Kidd, Payton, Kevin Johnson, Isiah Thomas, Mike Bibby, Deron Williams, John Stockton and Tony Parker, while trailing only Magic Johnson and Chris Paul as 20-year-old point guards.


Brandon Hoffman is a frequent contributor to RealGM. To read more from Brandon, check out his blog at BallerBlogger.com. Email him at ballerblogger@yahoo.com, or follow him on Twitter.

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Breaking Down Every Angle Of The 2009 NBA Finals

This article originally appeared on June 4, 2009

It?s been nearly a year since the Lakers suffered a 39-point defeat in the series finale against the Boston Celtics. With that loss etched in their memory, the Lakers entered the 2008-09 season with one objective: Win the NBA championship. Anything less, and their 65-win regular season will be for naught.

No one expected the Orlando Magic to advance to the Finals. Overshadowed by the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics, the 59-win Magic were categorized by many as a soft, perimeter-oriented team that would live -- and ultimately die -- by the longball.

This may not have the fanfare of Lakers-Celtics, or Kobe-LeBron, but this year?s Final features an NBA rarity -- two evenly matched teams playing their best basketball at the exact same time.

In the playoffs, the Lakers have scored 108.6 points per 100 possessions, and given up 101.8 points per 100 possessions on the defensive end (plus-6.8 point differential). Orlando, by comparison, is scoring 107.5 points per 100 possessions, while surrendering 100.5 points per 100 possessions defensively (plus-7 point differential).

Both teams run inside-out, motion-oriented offenses. Orlando runs the classic "4-around-1." Their first option is to establish Dwight Howard down low, where he can go to work on his man, or draw a double and pass out to one of four sharp-shooting teammates. If Howard is unavailable, Orlando will high screen and rolls, with Hedo Turkoglu as the preferred ball-handler, and Howard or Rashard Lewis setting the pick.

Double Howard, and he?ll kick it out to Lewis, Turkoglu, Mickael Pietrus, Courtney Lee, or Rafer Alston for the open three. Leave Howard on screen-and-roll he?ll roll to the paint for an easy dunk. Lose Lewis, and he?ll slip out behind the arc for an open triple. Let Turkoglu turn the corner and he?ll take advantage of a 4-on-3 situation by scoring the ball himself or creating a scoring opportunity for one of his teammates. Get the picture? Orlando is a matchup nightmare.

It?s possible to limit Orlando?s open looks by playing Howard one-on-one, staying home on their perimeter shooters, and defending the screen/roll with two defenders, but very few teams have the personnel to execute that strategy.

The Lakers just happen to be one of those teams.

Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol have the length, strength, and mobility to contain Howard alone. And the Lakers have four frontcourt players 6-8 or taller who can defend the high screen/roll, plus chase Orlando's shooters off the three-point line.

Look for Lakers coach Phil Jackson to defend Howard with single-coverage for most of the series, but if Howard proves he can score on Bynum and Gasol, Jackson will undoubtedly alternate coverages by doubling Howard on the move and/or on the catch. Howard has improved his ability to pass out of double teams, but he?s still susceptible to careless turnovers and offensive fouls when bottled up.

Derek Fisher will likely split time defending Alston and Lee, with Kobe Bryant defending Orlando?s primary ball-handler. Alston?s quickness could give the Lakers trouble, but he?s more of a spot up shooter in Orlando?s halfcourt offense, and still tends to take too many chances in transition.

Trevor Ariza will start on Turkoglu after a stellar series versus Carmelo Anthony and the Denver Nuggets. Ariza seems to be gaining confidence by the minute, particularly on the offensive end, where he's hitting 50 percent of his 3-point attempts in the playoffs. He has the requisite length and athleticism to make things difficult for Turkoglu on the perimeter.

Rashard Lewis versus Pau Gasol may be the most intriguing matchup of the series. Lewis is capable of taking Gasol out on the perimeter or blowing by him off the dribble, while Gasol has the size and skill advantage down low. Jackson also has the option of going small and inserting Odom into the four spot opposite Lewis.

Offensively, the Lakers will try to establish Pau Gasol in the post on the strong side triangle, or reverse the ball to Bryant at the weak-side pinch post. Orlando is the best defensive team in the league and had quite a bit of success double teaming Bryant on pick-and-rolls in their two regular season meetings with the Lakers, but the Magic haven?t faced a versatile offense in quite some time. Philly, Boston, and Cleveland were isolation heavy teams with little to no low-post scoring, which allowed Howard to shade toward the ball without being punished underneath.

The Lakers sport five offensive weapons at all times, and the triangle offense is a continuous sequence of movements that will keep Howard?s head on a swivel. Howard?s Defensive Player of the Year award was well-deserved, but his court awareness will be put to the test against the Lakers.

Orlando does a tremendous job of preventing high percentage looks at the basket while chasing opponents off the three-point line. The Magic will concede the long two, which is the most inefficient shot in basketball; however, the Lakers present a few mismatches of their own.

Lewis can?t defend Gasol on the low block. And both Gasol and Bynum will make Howard work on the ball, which could lead to early foul trouble.

Ariza and Odom are the Lakers? X-factors. Ariza comes into the Finals shooting 55.8 percent from the field. Odom is shooting 51.9 percent from beyond the arc. Orlando is thought of as the better three-point shooting team, and rightly so, but the Lakers enter the Finals shooting a higher percentage from long-distance (37.9 to 36.7 percent), although Orlando has taken 106 more three-point attempts (444-338) through the first three rounds of the playoffs.

The Lakers have the advantage off the bench as well. Pietrus gave the Magic a big boost through the first three rounds, and comes into the Finals on the heels of a series in which he shot 47.2 percent from the three-point line, but Sasha Vujacic is a persistent defender who is more than capable of disrupting Pietrus' rhythm. (Vujacic was very effective for stretches versus Houston?s Von Wafer and Denver?s J.R. Smith.) Moreover, Jordan Farmar and Shannon Brown?s athleticism will cause matchup problems for Anthony Johnson and/or Jameer Nelson. Plus Marcin Gortat will struggle to stay on the floor because he?s a non-factor offensively.

Lee and Pietrus will likely split time defending Bryant. Pietrus was effective for short spurts versus LeBron James in the Eastern Conference Finals, but Bryant's skill set poses a different set of problems, and his superior supporting cast makes it difficult for opposing teams to tilt their defense toward the strong side. Further, Bryant makes his living off the long two point shots that Orlando concedes, and is attacking the basket and getting to the line at a season-high rate. Bryant attempted 12 free throws per game versus the Nuggets. He enters the Finals shooting 89.5 percent from the charity stripe.

Simply put, Bryant took his game to another level in the Western Conference Finals, and it just so happened to coincide with Jerry West?s comments about LeBron being a better player. West was quoted as saying that LeBron had ?surpassed? Kobe on May 18th. A day later, Bryant erupted for 40, scoring fifteen of his team?s final 23 points to lead the Lakers to a 105-103 Game 1 victory over the Nuggets. He?s been on a tear ever since.

Bryant, who often refers to himself as a "student of the game," is well aware of his legacy. He knows this is his best -- and perhaps last -- chance to reclaim the title as the world?s best player. Magic Johnson lost four NBA Finals. Larry Bird lost two. Another Finals loss would bring Bryant's career total to three. I just don?t see that happening.

Playoff basketball is all about matchups, and the Lakers have the advantage at two of the five starting positions, off the bench, and own a slight edge on the sideline with Phil Jackson. In addition, I can?t help but conclude the Lakers will simply want it more. Back-to-back Finals losses would shake the Lakers franchise to its core, while in many ways Orlando has been playing with house money since Game 7 of the Semifinals.

Prediction: Lakers in six.

Brandon Hoffman is a frequent contributor to RealGM. To read more from Brandon, check out his blog at BallerBlogger.com. Questions, comments, and criticisms can be sent to ballerblogger@yahoo.com or you can follow him on Twitter.

Lakers Save Best For Last Against Nuggets

L.A.'s gameplan was obvious from the onset as they went to Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum on their first four offensive possessions.

A Signature Road Win

The Lakers got off to another slow start in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals, but came up with several big plays down the stretch to escape with a 103-97 win over the Nuggets.

The Importance Of Rajon Rondo

Last season, most analysts thought the Celtics couldn?t win a championship with a second-year point guard at the helm. This season, Boston?s repeat chances begin and end with Rondo.

Extra Work Paying Dividends For Jameer Nelson

Aside from Dwight Howard, Hedo Turkoglu may have been most responsible for Orlando?s success last season, but it?s Jameer Nelson who is having a career-year this season.

Defense Or Bust For Miami

While the Heat offense has a long way to go to catch up with its defense, Miami is clearly a team on the rise.

How The Spurs Keep On Going

The Spurs are the one team in the league that is capable of winning four straight playoff series without the benefit of home-court advantage.

The Limitations Of The Hornets

Until the Hornets find a serviceable backup for Chris Paul, they?ll remain on the outside looking in and championship contention.

Cavs Have All The Tools For A Title

The Cavs are no longer a one man band. They?re a team with all the tools required to win a championship.

Chicago's Halfcourt Offense A Work In Progress

Derrick Rose doesn?t have the skill set nor is he blessed with the right supporting cast to be a pick-and-roll point guard at this stage of his career.

Poor Shooting Doesn't Hurt Lakers Against Nuggets

Despite their shooting woes, the Lakers capitalized on their superior size by outrebounding Denver.

Finals Preview: Lakers In 6?

The Lakers have played 67 games and Boston has played 73, nearly an entire NBA season, since these two teams last squared off back on December 30th.

How To Beat Boston?

The Celtics appear vulnerable against a quick perimeter oriented offense.

A 76% Success Rate Not Enough?

Given the success rates of the players who have entered the NBA and/or played professional abroad at or before the age of 18, whose interests are the powers that be trying to protect?

Does Webber Deserve A HOF Nod?

Take away your personal feelings for C-Webb and compare his career and contributions to the game of basketball to that of Hayes, DeBusschere, Lucas, Garnett, and Dirk and you should see that Chris Webber belongs in the Hall of Fame.

Will The Nuggets Become The Best Team Ever To Not Make The Playoffs?

The depth of the Western Conference will make for one historical exclusion in the playoffs.

Kobe Or LeBron In The Clutch?

Which player is the better clutch performer?

Comparing The Age Of The Spurs To Previous Dynasties

Are there any indicators that can be taken from the end of previous dynasties that suggest the Spurs' run is over?

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