Well, the Nuggets failed to get off the team bus in Game 1 of their best of seven first round series against the Lakers. There were some positives, but in order to claim victory in Game 2 the Nuggets must make adjustments. Is this something that coach George Karl is willing to do?
The headline, "Blogger gives coach advice; coach listens" is something you will never see. We all like to consider ourselves arm chair point guards, but in reality we are all fans who are passionate about the game of basketball. Thankfully so. This does not, however, mean that we as fans know best. All of us will give our best opinion based on our basketball knowledge, but at the end of the day it's George Karl and George Karl alone whose opinion matters.
In that spirit, here are some Game 2 adjustments I'd like to see the Nuggets make heading into tonight's contest ...
How to tackle Andrew Bynum: I don't think Bynum is strictly the reason the Nuggets lost (more on that below), however he is a problem that needs to be solved. In that spirit, if you are going to double team him, remember that he likes to shuffle his pivot foot. If you frustrate him, he will either travel or commit and offensive foul (if it's called). Dont be afraid to foul hard, Karl already planted a bug in Bynum's ear, and it wouldn't be inappropriate to exploit that annoyance.
On defense, now that Karl has called out Bynum for camping out in the lane (seriously, at one point I saw him making s'mores with a small campfire on one Nuggets' offensive possession), in order to draw him out of his cave, the Nuggets must find a way to hit 15-foot jumpers from their centers. This means playing Timofey Mozgov, aka "Stone Hands", aka "Miguel Sanchez" (Simpsons reference) more often. Yes, he will draw fouls, but Moz must not get frustrated (as he often does) and just use his fouls regardless.
Don't forget about Pau Gasol: I'm of the mind that Gasol hurts you more than Bynum does. Gasol does so many of the little things on offense - that if you leave him unaccounted for, or guarded by a player who can't match up it will get exploited time and again. Let's face it folks, Kenneth Faried is trying his best with the 7-foot Spaniard, but is clearly overmatched because of the dramatic size difference. If you double with Faried in the game, Pau will just pass to Bynum. Faried won't leave the starting lineup, but I'd insert JaVale McGee on Gasol ... rather than Al Harrington. McGee is the only Nuggets big man with the athleticism to guard Gasol one on one. Also, Gasol will pass to Steve Blake or Matt Barnes on the three-point line, this cannot be allowed to happen under any circumstances.
Remember you are a better coach than Mike Brown: This ain't Phil Jackson down the court from you Coach Karl. It's Mike "Dr. Bunsen Honeydew" Brown. If you can't out-adjust Brown ... well then ... I'm not sure what to tell you.
Pace is great when it's working: Listen, the Lakers are going to slow the Nuggets down, even when they themselves are playing faster. It's just the nature of playoff basketball. The Nuggets, however, can help their own cause by getting into their offensive sets quicker and pressuring the ball on defense a bit more. Turnovers cause fast breaks and the Nuggets didn't do that nearly enough on Sunday. In Game 2 I'd like to see the Nuggets pressure more (like the Thunder) and do what they can to push the pace. You can make things frenetic even if you are forced into half court sets.
Nuggets of Wisdom
The Nuggets completely wasted Danilo Gallinari's good game on Sunday. What became evidently clear is that the Lakers had no one who could guard Gallo one on one, with Metta World Peace out. Quite frankly, Gallo was the only one looking for his shot. Now that the Lakers understand this, they may attempt to double him more ... which will open up things more for Faried and Ty Lawson. The other Nuggets players need to recognize this and be looking for the pass at all times.
Lawson had what can only be described as one of his worst games in Game 1. I'm not going to re-hash the history. Ty understands he needs to play better in order for the Nuggets to be victorious, and I anticipate him making up for it. tonight. We also need Harrington to spread the floor a bit more. Several of those Bynum blocks came while Al was attempting to drive. Look, I appreciate what you are doing Al, but you can't jump because you are injured. Not entirely sure you should continue driving the lane against the Lakers bigs anymore.
The Nuggets have a good chance in this game. If anything the regular season taught us, it's that the Lakers and Nuggets will inevitably play a close game. Take Game 1 as an abberation. This will be a much better effort from the Nuggets, so let's see how they respond.
Song of the game
The year was 1993. Everyone, it seemed, was wearing plaid ... even rappers. As you all know, I'm not a huge fan of hip hop, but I've always had a special place in my heart for this song. In fact this is not the first time I've used this song in a post It's relentless and works perfectly for the time it came out and it works perfectly for what the Nuggets need to do in Game 2. Onyx .... Slam. Oh, and FYI Throw Ya Guns by them is a better song, but it's a little too gritty for a family site such as this one.
Onyx - Slam (via OnyxVEVO)