Scouting Report: Lakers vs. Spurs

Updated: May 3, 2004, 7:53 AM ET
By Brian James | Special to ESPN Insider
Lakers' plus-minus breakdown | Spurs' plus-minus breakdown

Brian James, a former assistant coach with the Pistons, Raptors and Wizards, spent the 2003-04 season scouting for the SuperSonics. Insider tapped his NBA expertise to break down each playoff series.

It might be only the second round, but the winner of this matchup could easily be the NBA champion. San Antonio and Los Angeles have won the last five NBA rings, and one of them easily could do it again.

The Spurs are all business right now, having handled Memphis more quickly and easily than I expected. The sweep gave them three extra days of rest, and that could be beneficial in this series. The Spurs have won 15 in a row and are playing like a finely tuned engine.

If even two of the four role players -- Tony Parker, Hedo Turkoglu, Manu Ginobili and Robert Horry -- contribute and help Tim Duncan, the Spurs are almost unbeatable. They execute down the stretch at both ends.

Something will have to give when the Lakers have the ball. Kobe Bryant loves to drive the ball on the baselines, going hard to the basket, but the Spurs like to influence you to drive toward the baseline, then trap you or alter your shot with the weakside big man coming over. It will be interesting to see who breaks the other's game plan first.