Apr 17, 2013; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker (9) is checked by trainer Will Sevening after he hurt his knee during the second half against the Minnesota Timberwolves at the AT

NBA Western Conference Playoff Prediction: #2 San Antonio Spurs V. #7 Los Angeles Lakers

The NBA got its wish when the Utah Jazz and then the Houston Rockets wet the bed on the final day of the regular season, opening the door for the surging Lakers to leapfrog the Rockets — and the certain playoff doom of an OKC matchup — in exchange for a bout with their old old nemesis, who find themselves limping into the playoffs, the San Antonio Spurs.

Spurs probable starting lineup:

PG Tony Parker

SG Danny Green

SF Kawhi Leonard

PF Tim Duncan

C Tiago Splitter

Jettisoning Stephen Jackson just days before the playoffs began in exchange for Tracy McGrady would seem a questionable move by most clubs, but for the continuity-based Spurs it could be suicidal. Whether hyperbole or not, the Spurs are in a bit of trouble. Dealing with injuries up through the last week of the season to Parker, Leonard, Ginobili and others — they’d be in quite a bit more trouble if their MVP wasn’t lining up against an old-as-dirt sieve like Steve Nash.

Lakers probable starting lineup:

PG Steve Nash

SG Steve Blake

SF Metta World Peace

PF Pau Gasol

C Dwight Howard

The injury to Kobe Bryant seems like a fitting consequence to the league’s shameless attempts to drag the Lakers kicking and screaming into the playoffs — if only the Rockets could have finished off the Suns before losing to the Lakers, OKC would be throttling them in the first round instead of giving the Lakers a shot against a not-quite-healthy Spurs squad that was the only Western Conference qualifier to finish the final 10 games of the season under .500.

Nevertheless, the Spurs will need to get a more than solid performance from its bigs to contend with the Lakers twin towers and a return to form by Ginobili and Parker if they wish to make it a quick series. With their superior depth and coaching, I have no doubts they will.

Prediction: Spurs in 5.

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Tags: Dwight Howard Kobe Bryant Los Angeles Lakers Manu Ginobili Nba Playoff Predictions Nba Playoffs Pau Gasol San Antonio Spurs Steve Nash Tim Duncan Tony Parker Western Conference Playoffs

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