In 2001, Lakers were the best defensive team in the playoffs. Fisher and Fox were good chasing over the top on screens, so they would make life difficult for Curry.
Both Kobe and Shaq were 2nd team All-Defense. In addition to Horry, the Lakers had Horace Grant, a 4-time All-Defense 2nd team selection.
Kobe at age 22, and Shaq at age 28 were in their primes, so they will more than match the energy of the Warriors stars.
The Lakers' playoff point differential was a +12.8, and they swept three Western teams that could have won at least one NBA title. Their playoff opponents had a combined .675 win percentage.
The Warriors playoff point differential was a +13.5, but they skated against a 41-win Portland team, a limited Utah team, and the powerhouse Spurs without Kawhi Leonard. Golden State's opponents had a .629 win percentage, but most of that came from the crippled 61-win Spurs.
While both teams had 16-1 playoff records, the Lakers' degree of difficulty was light years ahead of the Warriors (to misuse that stupid quote by Lacob).
In the series, Draymond is unplayable with his 30.8% three point shooting, and their switch defense is severely compromised with jokes like Pachulia playing center.
Even worse, without Draymond's brilliant playmaking, the Warriors don't gain the same 4-on-3 advantages when the Lakers blitz the pick and roll.
That leaves Durant to score in iso against Horry and Grant. He'll get his, but the flow of the Warriors offense is terrible. Just like it was against Houston in 2018, when the Warriors scored 105 or less in four of their games.
The difference is the Lakers won't miss 27 3s in a row because they will consistently score on dunks and free throws the entire game and in every game of the series. This puts tremendous pressure on the Warriors sharp shooters.
Yes, math is on the side of the Warriors, but the 2017 team averaged only 31.5 three pointers per game, while making 38.3%. That's 12 makes per game.
The 2001 Lakers made 6.1 three pointers per game, giving the Warriors an 18-point advantage in long distance shooting.
The Lakers made 32.1 two-pointers and 25.6 free throws per game in the 2001 championship run, but hose numbers will balloon as the Warrior dwarves foul out against Shaq.
The trips to the foul line slow the game down, and eliminate the Warriors' open three pointers in transition. Every half court possession is a war, and the Warriors' off the ball movement comes at a cost, as fatigued legs start to miss more shots at the ends of games and as the series continues.
Klay will be exhausted guarding Kobe and disappear for most of the games.
Let the Finals begin.
Golden State comes out on fire to win the first game, but the Lakers grind them down to even the series at 1-1.
The Lakers enjoy a blow out in game 3, as the Warriors have a poor shooting night while Steve Kerr gets fined for complaining about all the offensive fouls not called on Shaq.
Game 4 is the most intense game of the series as both teams play great. But Big Shot Rob hits a game winning three pointer to give the Lakers a 3-1 lead.
In Game 5, the Warriors have their best shooting night of the series, while the Lakers let down as they always do. The Warriors win in a blow out, and Phil Jackson complains about Pachulia cheap shots that almost injured Kobe.
In Game 6, the Lakers close out the championship at Staples in another tightly contested defensive battle.
As the seconds tick off the clock in a 97-91 victory, the fans chant "We want tacos! We want tacos!"
And a new generation of NBA fans in an alternative dimension learn to hate the Lakers.