Chasing Down The Latest NBA News
#3 Los Angeles Lakers (41-25): 92.9 possessions per game, 103.3 points per 100 possessions, 101.7 points allowed per 100 possessions
#6 Denver Nuggets (38-28): 96.6 possessions per game, 106.5 points per 100 possessions, 103.4 points allowed per 100 possessions
Team Match-up To Watch For: Tempo
The Lakers and Nuggets have a very noticeable difference in style and personnel, which leads to disparity in their respective game plans. Denver would love to get out in transition and feed it’s cornucopia of athletes while the Lakers want to slow things down and work their offense through the post, usually draining the shot clock of at least 16 seconds per possession. It’s an intriguing contrast but history tells us that size wins this battle almost every time and now that the Lakers have three legitimate options on offense (Pau/Bynum post-up, Sessions pick-and-roll, Kobe isolation), they have the diversity to score at an elite level. The Nuggets can fill it up, too, but their shooters aren’t automatic (they don’t compare the Mavs team that beat the Lakers last year) and the Lakers can beat pretty much every team that doesn’t kill them from beyond the arc.
Individual Match-up To Watch For: Andrew Bynum vs Kenneth Faried
I’m sure Afflalo vs Kobe will be fun but I think Bynum is the key to the series and while Faried won’t necessarily guard him on the block (if Denver allows that to happen frequently this series will be over quickly), this match-up is huge on the boards. Essentially, these two personify the tempo battle for both teams. Bynum has been on both ends of the totem poll this year, snatching 30 boards against the Spurs before grabbing just two a few days later against the same team. Unfortunately, despite his big time improvement this year, you still sub-consciously doubt that you’ll get the engaged Bynum on any given day. Perhaps Bynum wasn’t so intent on dominating the regular season in hopes of staying healthy, which I understand given his history and what happened yesterday, but there are times where his body language can spell doom for the Lakers. Hopefully the playoffs will keep him entertained but if he starts getting lax on the boards, Faried, the league’s top offensive rebounding power forward, will reek havoc. And those extra possessions can kill the Lakers, a team that almost never creates extra possessions for themselves, at least on the defensive end.
Prediction: After what happened last year when Chris Paul took that team the Globetrotters always blowout into LA and won game one, I won’t be surprised if the Lakers drop today’s game. That said, the Nuggets don’t have a player that’s nearly as good as Paul and though Ty Lawson is super quick and efficient, I don’t think he can take apart the Lakers like Paul did (and the Lakers still won that series). Lakers in 6.