It’s the Spurs…

Well, at least the Lakers know their way around San Antonio.

And really, doesn’t it seem fitting the road back to the NBA Finals would pass through the Spurs, who dispatched of the up-and-coming New Orleans Hornets Monday night 91-80 in Game 7 of their Western Conference semifinal match-up to advance to the Western Conference Finals, which begin Wednesday night in Los Angeles.

For the sixth time since 1999, the Lakers and Spurs will meet in the playoffs. During that same span, at least one of them has appeared in eight of the nine NBA Finals, with the Spurs winning in 1999, 2003, 2005 and 2007 and the Lakers taking three straight titles from 2000-2002.

But while the Spurs have largely remained intact, the Lakers have been disassembled and reconstructed. The only players on the Lakers roster who played in their last playoff meeting with the Spurs in 2004 are Kobe Bryant, Luke Walton and Derek Fisher.

This season, the teams split their four games with each team winning the two games on its home court. Only one of the four games was played after Pau Gasol was traded to the Lakers. The Lakers blew San Antonio out 106-85 on April 13, though it should be noted the Spurs were without 6th Man of the Year, Manu Ginobili, who was resting a leg injury before the playoffs.

“I think for them it’s just about playing together,” Kobe Bryant said of the Spurs. “They’ve been playing together for so many years, they know how to execute and stay within themselves. That’s really the key.”