The Lakers are in Denver for Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals and I have no choice but to feel a little bit of De ja Vu. The reasons are simple; the Lakers were in this same position game 4 of this series and game 4 of the Houston series.
I feel that the Lakers have learned their lesson and understand the importance of the position that they’re in. However, the Lakers haven’t won two consecutive big games in a row. This statistic needs to change tonight.
Kobe Bryant had a big game in a slightly different way playing the role of the facilitator and getting his teammates excellent shots. Count on seeing more of that early as well as seeing him take over the game in the fourth quarter.
The Lakers got a huge lift in game 5 with Derek Fisher & Andrew Bynum combining for 21 points, Lamar Odom’s coming out party with 19 points 14 rebounds and four blocked shots as well as a solid contribution from the bench. Lamar knew he hadn’t played well and had to step up and he played like a man possessed.
When Odom plays like he did in game 5 he has the potential to be a huge x-factor for the team. Big question for tonight’s game is can Lamar play that way again?
The Lakers need to put the Nuggets in as many screen and roll plays as possible due to the fact that Denver is switching defenders on this play causing a mismatch of a smaller player guarding either Pau Gasol or Andrew Bynum.
The Lakers have to recognize this and make the Nuggets pay for playing a smaller player on Pau or Andrew. The Lakers need to cut down the number of three point shots taken and focus on controlling the paint by attacking the basket with their size advantage.
Los Angeles needs to be aggressive and attack the basket early and often and not settle for so many jump shots. This should take the crowd out of the game and allow the Lakers to go to the free throw line. The Lakers need to have five players in double digits to have a more balanced attack.
Put the pressure on the Nuggets defense, Denver will do everything they can to win this game and the Lakers have to match their intensity and focus on winning today and ending this series.
The Lakers will have to control the tempo, the glass, get back in transition, and stop the dribble penetration as well as rotate out to three point shooters. The Lakers will need to slow Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups & Nene. Limit the impact of the explosive yet volatile J.R. Smith.
The Lakers have played excellent defense in certain stretches of games and have executed in the fourth quarters and that trend needs to continue to end this series. Denver has committed 11 technical fouls out of frustration and need to be put out of their misery.
The Lakers have found more ways to attack this team. Los Angeles is tough to beat when everyone is contributing and they’re hitting on all cylinders, the 23-5 run in the fourth quarter proved that. I believe that the type of effort, energy, poise and execution down the stretch shown in game 5 can travel to Denver and we as Lakers fans can see a repeat performance.
Tipoff: 6:00 PM PST
- Los Angeles: ESPN
- Denver: ESPN
- Los Angeles: AM570 KLAC (Spero Dedes & Mychal Thompson)
- Denver: KCKK AM1510 (Jerry Schemmel)
- None to report.
- None to report.