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Friday, April 18, 2008

Nuggets-Lakers Preview.

Posted by AR

What if I told you that you could have Allen Iverson,Carmelo Anthony,Kobe Bryant,Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom all match up against each other in a first round series?Is that something you might be interested in?

The Nuggets are a jam-packed team,they have offense escaping from every orifice,scoring to the point that you could be forgiven for thinking that Kiki Vandeweghe is still lacing them up for Denver. A team with two superstars and a slew of athletic scoring role players should be better than this,simple as that. They have yet to gel as a team,and at times don't look like they even want to be one.Ron Artest trade rumors and Melo's recent DUI have not helped things(the latter may have). With their frustrating refusal to play anything that resembles the word "defense" all season,it's hard to imagine them being able to overcome a team equally willing to turn the game into a track-meet.In this series,it is entirely possible that the Nuggets could score 200 and still end up losing due to their D.But,then again this is the playoffs,and apparently this is where amazing happens.So, far be it for me to discard this Nuggets team too quickly,especially with a ring-less Allen Iverson on the team.

Does anyone remember a certain website dedicated solely to getting a man named Mitch Kupchak fired?No,really?Well there was one and it stated in no uncertain terms that it would like very much that said GM would be fired.If you are now looking for this website,I think it has since re-named to Things seem to change in the NBA pretty quickly.Larry Brown turned from "Legendary coach" into "hated old man" in the space of one season,Gilbert Arenas went from "breath of fresh air" to "egotistical annoyance" in a mere few months.This season, for the Lakers has played out in a similar fashion,they went from "tricky first round encounter" to "The Lakers will win the championship,no question" and guess who's responsible?EW guessed it,Mitchell Kupchack.At the risk of sounding like Captain Obvious,the Pau Gasol trade completely changed the Lakers season; only having to give up mildly promising rookie Javaris Crittenton and consummate party(and cake) thrower Kwame Brown was the icing on the cake. Even Bynums injury doesn't seem to have slowed them down. When Kobe Bryant was giving a parking lot interview sometime during last summer,do you think he really expected the Lakers to be no.1 in the West going into the playoffs?I think not. Do you think he'd really prefer to be in Chicago right about now. I think we all know the answer to that one.

Let's Look at the Match ups.

PG-Anthony Carter/Derek Fisher-No team has any advantage here,both players do the exact same thing on each squad,to provide a veteran presence,keep a cool head,not make many mistakes and let the star players do what they do.
SG-Allen Iverson/Kobe Bryant-Although it's highly unlikely that either will actually be guarding the other during the series; it will be interesting to see who has more of an impact on their team's performance.I'm going to say that the Lakers have a sizable advantage here.
SF-Carmelo Anthony/Lamar Odom-This is the match-up that might decide the outcome of the series,this is the match-up that the Lakers might have no answer for.Lamar by himself cannot defend Melo,this will have to be a group effort; especially considering that Melo' may be a smidge more fired up than usual due to recent events. A combination of Lamar,Ira Newble and the grace of God may help The Lakers overcome this,but the Nugs have a clear advantage here.
PF-Kenyon Martin/Vladimer Radmanovic-Both have shown glimpses of their better days this season,but this will seemingly be a non factor match-up.
C-Marcus Camby/Pau Gasol-The Lakers need to keep Camby occupied when on offense,Lamar and especially Gasol need to be aggressive in order to prevent Camby helping out on weakside D,if they manage to curb Camby's help D he will become a non factor,he's already a non factor on offense and Gasol should dominate him one on one.Lakers with the clear advantage.

How The Lakers Will Win:
The Nuggets are a horrible defensive team,the Lakers need to take advantage of this.Not only are the Nugs a horrible defensive team,they are also often a lazy defensive team,meaning they often fall into a zone.If the Nugs do go zone,the Lakers should bring Pau into the middle running the high post,this will bring Camby up and open the backdoor.The Melo match up is crucial also,they should have a constant slew of fresh players defending him.Guys like Ira Newble and Sasha Vujacic will be a constant nuisance and key to preventing Melo' getting comfortable.The Lakers should by no means double the post-ever.Why risk giving guys like Kleiza and JR open looks,especially since Denver's bench is their trump card. The Lakers need to make guys like Camby and Carter be scorers,let them have the ball as much as they want,keeping the ball out of the hands of Melo' and AI is important.It's important for the Lakers to limit turnovers,prevent the Nugs from getting many fast break opportunities.Most importantly,make damn sure that Kobe gets hot early,no team in the league has an answer for Kobe Bryant,no team in the league has a player like Kobe Bryant,let Kobe be the apparent MVP.

How the Nuggets Will Win:
If the Nuggets are to win this,they must realize a few things:1)They must realize that they have no answer for Kobe Bryant,just play honest D and hope he doesn't go for 81.2)Speaking of honest D,everyone must play defense all the time,even AI.You won't shut down Kobe but you might be able to stop everyone else,and Kobe won't win on his own.3)Realize the advantage of the bench.If they manage to properly control rotation of players like JR and Kleiza and those players play to their potential,an upset could be upon us.Keep AI and JR together in the backcourt as much as possible,Kobe can't guard both.Kenyon Martin will need to dominate the paint and the boards,Camby will need to contribute on offense and defend out of his skin,Carter will need to knock down shots when called upon.The keys will be the performances of the defense,the bench,A.I and Melo,without all of things things coming to fruition,the Nugs will be going home early.

The Nugs will be tricky,but still be awful on defense.