The Lakers went through many ups and downs in the regular season, yet they finished the regular season at (57-25), good enough for the two seed in the Western Conference. The Hornets battled injuries, but still finished (46-35) on the year, to capture the 7th seed.
The Lakers ability to score the ball will be one of the big concerns for the Hornets. The Lakers finished the season 7th in the NBA in offense, while the Hornets finished 19th in the NBA.
The Hornets are limited on what they can do down low. They lost their 2nd best player on the team, David West, with a torn ACL injury, and have had to rely on Carl Landry to fill his role. However, Landry has always played well against the Lakers whether it was being a part of taking the Lakers to 7 games in the playoffs with Houston, or his time in Sacramento.
In the Hornets last 10 games; Landry is the teams leading scorer, with 14.9 points per game, while shooting 52% from the field.
The one match up the Hornets have an advantage at is the point guard position. Chris Paul is one of the best point guards in the league, and the Lakers do not defend point guards really well. With Steve Blake doubtful for this game, the Lakers may use a combination of Kobe Bryant and Shannon Brown to slow down CP3.
There are two questions the Lakers need to answer in Game 1. How effective will Andrew Bynum be, and will they finally kick it in to high gear, and be motivated to play the best basketball they can. The Lakers have said that they have been looking forward to the “second season” for quite some time.
Game 1 will be their chance to show everybody how the defending champions can play, when the games really count for something. As long as there is ball movement on offense, and the Lakers play team defense, the Hornets simply don’t have the talent nor the fire power to compete with the Lakers. In four regular season meetings the Lakers won all four.
Lakers: D. Fisher, K. Bryant, R. Artest, L. Odom, P. Gasol
Hornets: C.Paul, M.Belinelli, T.Ariza, C.Landry, E.Okafor
Tip-off: 12:30 PM PST
• ABC – Mike Breen, Mark Jackson, Jeff Van Gundy
• Los Angeles: 710 ESPN (Spero Dedes & Mychal Thompson)
• New Orleans: 106.7 FM KMEZ (Sean Kelley & Gerry Vaillancourt)
• Kobe Bryant (Sprained Left Ankle) Will Play
• Andrew Bynum (Bone Bruse, Right Knee) Probable
• Matt Barnes (Sore Right Knee) Questionable
• Steve Blake (Chickenpox) Doubtful
• Devin Ebanks (Stree Fracture, Left Tibia ) Out
• David West (Torn ACL, Left Knee) Out