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2008 NBA Playoffs: Nuggets/Lakers Game 1 Game Thread

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In case you missed any of my previews and one radio interview I have completed so far you can follow the links below to get caught up.


20 Questions at Hardwood Paroxysm

Ball Don't Lie preview

Forum Blue and Gold preview

Sports Hub LA preview

ESPN Radio 710 AM interview


Now that you are back with us it is time to take one last look at this series and I will point out a few things that I have yet to mention anywhere else so far.


- I have barely mentioned Kenyon Martin and he can play a huge role in this series. As Brian from LA Sports Hub pointed out in his analysis of how to beat the Lakers, Lamar Odom has been great since the Gasol trade. Kenyon is one of the few players in the league that can handle Odom defensively. Brian also pointed out that the Lakers do not like being played physically. Playing physical in the playoffs is something the Nuggets, especially Kenyon, do very well. I thought another reason the Lakers would be a bad matchup for Denver was because there was no Tim Duncan for Kenyon to beat on. If Kenyon gets a hold of Odom or Gasol in the paint, he may get a chance to play the physical post defense he enjoys so much.


- Before the All-Star break Marcus Camby was averaging 14.3 boards and 3.9 blocks. After the All-Star break those numbers have dropped to 11.1 and 3.2. He did play a minute and a half less a game, but I do not think we can accredit the drop off to that. I have mentioned several times that Camby has looked worn down. Well, there is a good reason for that. Marcus has played 390 more minutes this season than his previous career high which interestingly enough was set just last season. Those 390 minutes average out to an extra 11 or 12 games of wear and tear. He also set a new career high of 79 games played in 07-08. At the age of 34 and with the build of a corn stalk there is no wonder he has looked sluggish. Hopefully the abundance of off days in this series can help Marcus get his 14 and 4 mojo back. Or find a 20 and 5 mojo. That would be even better.


- I have not written much about Carmelo Anthony. Melo has performed better and better with each postseason appearance he has made. (Well, he may not have been better against the Clippers in 2006 than he was against the Spurs in 2005, but the he was not any worse.) Last year against the Spurs, he was tremendous as he shot 47.5% and averaged 25 points and over eight rebounds. He even shot 9-13 on threes. I expect Melo to have a very good series, but the Nuggets will need more than just a big series from Melo to win four before they lose four.


- The same goes for Allen Iverson. I expect him to play well, but the Nuggets will need at least two players out of the group of Kenyon Martin, Marcus Camby, J.R. Smith and Linas Kleiza to have big games every night for them to have a chance.


- The Nuggets always seem to have a difficult time guarding some secondary player in the playoffs. Everyone from Trenton Hassel to Michael Finley has burned them in big moments over the previous four postseasons. The Lakers have several players who could fill that role this season. Sasha Vujacic, Jordan Farmar, Ronny Turiaf and Derek Fisher are all good candidates to be that guy this season.


- The Lakers have announced that the Nuggets will not have to worry about seeing Andrew Bynum as he will miss at least the first round of the playoffs. From the Nuggets side I do not expect to see Nene play in this series either. To my knowledge the Nuggets have not come out and said that and I believe the official word from George Karl is he hopes that Nene will be able to play. I find it unlikely.


- I do not see the benefit of making any changes to the starting lineup now. Anthony Carter will be seriously overmatched by Kobe Bryant, but no other player on the roster aside from J.R. has a chance to even slow Kobe down (Kuba Diawara is too slow).


- Everyone likes to talk about how the Nuggets have two all world players in AI and Melo and that is true, but the Lakers top three players are better than they are given credit for. Obviously Kobe may be the best player on the planet. Gasol is a very skilled big man and his versatility is the key to his ability to fit in with the Lakers seamlessly after he arrived from Memphis. Odom may be one of the most underrated players in the league. He can score, rebound and pass as well as any small forward not named LeBron in the league. Both he and Gasol are in the perfect situation with Kobe playing the role of Frank Drebin to their Detective Nordberg.


- Another thing I have yet to mention is the Lakers have a pretty big advantage between the men that will be wearing a suit and tie. Phil Jackson may not be the best X and O coach around, but he can help talented players focus and play to their potential. I do not believe we can say the same thing about George Karl. With the matchup issues the Nuggets will face, I am not sure what Karl can do. He will have to develop a good strategy of when to go zone, when to double Kobe and when to play straight up. He is certainly capable of making the correct decision in those situations. The question if he does will be will it make a difference in the outcome?


Finally, I want to apologize to the optimistic Nugget fans out there. I try to be realistic and calculating about the Nuggets. My purpose here is to study the situation and report what I see. It seems most places I post something or talk about the upcoming series it comes across like I am preparing for a week long colonoscopy. The Nuggets may very well be the best eighth seed in the history of the NBA playoffs. They certainly can play with any team in the league. Yes, I fully expect them to lose this series, but they certainly can pull off the upset. My point is, I could be a cheerleader and say go Nuggets we can do it, but what good does that do us? I certainly hope I am wrong and over the next two weeks, or however long this series may last, I am writing post after post about how the Nuggets are doing what I was unable to comprehend. I just have seen far too much of this team to buy into their chances to win this series.


I am picking the Lakers in six. I believe five of those six games will be close in the fourth quarter and anything can happen in close playoff games. I just cannot foresee a scenario where the Nuggets win four out of seven from this Laker squad.


As always, let’s have a good chat during the game. My son is playing in an AAU tournament tomorrow so I may be in and out, but I will do my best to take part.

Poll

What will be the final outcome of the Nuggets/Lakers series?

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    Nuggets in 4
    (2 votes)
  • 4%
    Nuggets in 5 or 6
    (5 votes)
  • 12%
    Nuggets in 7
    (15 votes)
  • 2%
    Lakers in 7
    (3 votes)
  • 56%
    Lakers in 5 or 6
    (67 votes)
  • 22%
    Lakers in 4
    (27 votes)
119 votes total Vote Now