Another series brings, positively enough, a blank slate, wiped clean of the ridiculousness of the last series, and itching to be filled with the knowledge required to overcome the Denver Nuggets’ in the Western Conference Finals.
Despite constant regular season victories when pitted against Denver, the Lakers learned from Houston that the implications of postseason can alter the entire façade that a team is normally built around.
Game 1 calls for us to proceed with caution, our overconfidence dragged on a series much longer than necessary, and we should be playing with the same urgency as any team that steps foot on the court with us. We will not have an accurate idea of how to play against Denver, until we complete Game 1.
Denver’s usual starting clique is led in scoring during the Playoffs by small forward Carmelo Anthony and point guard Chauncey Billups; both have been averaging over 20 points per game. That, in itself, is a force to be reckoned with, not to mention Nene and K-Mart who are considered to be quite formidable foes in the paint.
But it isn’t as if the Lakers don’t have a complete defensive match with every one of those players.
It just depends on if we actually feel like playing defense. We seemed very much attuned to our defensive flow in Game 7 against the Rockets. Trevor Ariza hushed Ron Artest to silence, and blocked a couple shots as well. Let’s not forget Kobe, who put up 4 steals for the game, and even Bynum got in the action with a steal. If our defense regularly resembled an impenetrable fortress of zone, we would regularly blow out teams by 40 points like we did to Houston in Game 5.
But, if we assume that we can win with less effort than is required, we will most likely fail. It is foolish to underestimate the power of the “underdog”. This year marks the highest seed the Denver Nuggets have ever received in the NBA Playoffs. The 54 wins they snagged in regular season is the highest amount of games won in franchise history. Such feats come with an increase in emotion and fervor on behalf of the ball club and its fans.
The Lakers have no room for mistakes with the Nuggets, and hopefully they’ll acknowledge that and be the team they know they can be. Pau Gasol can’t be the only person rebounding, and our possessions should be treated with care.
If we fix the minor flaws, give a hint more energy, we can swiftly move onto Lebron and the Cavaliers (assuming that is the case of course, you never know with the underdog).