TLN’s Playoff Preview: Lakers vs. Nuggets [Game 1]

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The Lakers return to work two days removed from ending the Rockets season to host the Western Conference Finals as well as face the Nuggets at the Staples Center. This is Denver’s first trip to the Conference Finals since 1985.

Several professional athletes can find disrespect in anything to help get them fired up or motivated to play. If you listen to the national media the Lakers have been completely disrespected.

The fact that the Lakers didn’t sweep the Rockets or dispatch them in five games hasn’t set well with several people and now the Lakers have become the team to bash or gloss with the term ‘not ready’.

If I’m not mistaken the Rockets did win 53 games this season. These people have forgotten that the goal is to win and advance, it might not have been pretty at times but the Lakers have done that.

The Lakers could pull the disrespect card and use it is as motivation. However the outcome of last season and making amends this year in my opinion should be motivation enough.

This match up was inevitable, the Lakers posting the conference’s best record and the Nuggets posting the second best. Last year this was a first round #1 seed vs. #8 seed match up. One year later and after a few changes on both sides and it is a Western Conference Finals #1 seed vs. #2 seed battle.

Los Angeles played Denver four times during the regular season and beat them 3 times. In that one lost the Nuggets beat the Lakers 90-79 at home. The Nuggets were able to snap a 9-game losing streak to the Lakers. Los Angeles has won 22 of the last 24 games against Denver.

The Nuggets might be the hottest team left in the playoffs, give them credit they’ve played well. The Lakers have had a rougher road in the playoffs to this point and the team knows how to play against the Nuggets. Denver will have to face the rest vs. rust conversation.

Chauncey Billups is an outstanding point guard, an excellent 3-point shooter who does an excellent job of attacking off the dribble. His leadership is the reason the Nuggets are still playing and he was on the 2004 Detroit team that won the Finals.

The Lakers need to play with a sense of urgency, stop being inconsistent, come out active & aggressive on defense from the start. The Lakers are playing to their strength by playing through the post. Establish both Pau & Andrew and allow them to go to work or set the table for everyone else.

Los Angeles needs to attack the basket early and often and not settle for so many jump shots. Limit the Nuggets to one shot per possession.

The Lakers will have to control the tempo, the glass, get back in transition, and stop the dribble penetration and rotate out to three point shooters. The Lakers will need to slow Carmelo Anthony, Nene and limit J.R. Smith’s impact he is an explosive scorer and instant offense. This series will be tough but the Lakers will prevail in 6 games.

Tipoff: 6:00 PM PST

Television -

  • Los Angeles: ESPN
  • Denver: ESPN

Radio -

  • Los Angeles: AM570 KLAC (Spero Dedes & Mychal Thompson)
  • Denver: KCKK AM1510 (Jerry Schemmel)

Injuries -

Lakers:

  • None to report.

Nuggets:

  • None to report.
Jeff Little is the pre-game writer for LakerNation.com. Follow him on Twitter.
  • Diehardfan

    From Fisher’s foul on Scola to the Lakers being underdogs (according to the media) those are things that we as fans must realize are good things. Last year’s Laker’s were the favorites and we all know what happened. For this Laker team, doubt is a good thing. They need to be doubted because that is what makes this team play better. It is was pushes them to play to a level that no other team can rise. So in my opinion they need to be made aware that no-one outside of Laker fans are rooting for them to win. Maybe that will put a chip on their shoulder.

  • lainok

    This is going to be a huge statement game for the Lakers. If they are able to come out and play the way they did on Sunday, and the way they say they are ready to play from here on out, then make sure you watch sportscenter and tnt on wednesday night after the cavs/magic game. Because all of those people that have been ripping on the lakeshow will be trying to jump back on the bandwagon. Just remember to tell Charles Barkley he made his pick and there is no room on this bandwagon for his fat A$$!

  • FT

    so now we’re the underdogs, ppl dnt expect us to advance past this round or win the title this year, hope that gets the team pumped up and on a mission to shut everyone up, cause when they play like that, noone can beat them, not even the allmighty lebron (who will NEVER get something negative said about him by anyone in the media)

    im just as pissed as the next lakers fan with all the negative stuff being said about our team, hopefully the team is too, so lets go shut everyone up, starting with the nuggets first, one game at a time!!! 8 wins left!

  • http://www.myspace.com/on3s3qu3nc3 123kid

    i think the hardest disrespect is from kenny smith and charles barkley. saying that if the lakers end up winning the championship that they dont deserve it.

  • JFK-analysis-at-TLN

    I’m sorry but i’m still mad about all the opinions from the “West” article….Lakers in 6or6-not too worried (if we play like game 7 of H series)

    Yes-call me the crazy angry Kobe lover but that’s not important…when Kobe took the role of best player in the game he dropped 55pts on MJ at Staples center (MJ was older)-but that was Kobe letting him know that his time was up…

    LBJ 19+.pts per game vs the Lakers-and Kobe took the challenge of guarding “The medias/fans” superhero and LBJ failed- the only test he has passed his the MVP test which i think he 100% deserved this year..but KB should have gotten about 4 times already….

    and the MJ-KB debate i won’t bother to get into- it would be like telling a kid who grew up in Catholic Church that God is a myth.. good luck..

    KB KB KB.. LA LA LA.. Champs Champs Champs

    i can’t wait for Andrew Bynum to start playing to his potential- the Bynum-Howard debate should be fun (if AB can play to his potential) haha NBA is alive and getting better..

  • MANDoe

    I CANT WAIT FOR THE LAKE-SHOW TO SHUT UP EVERYONE UP

  • WifelovesLuke

    “Los Angeles needs to attack the basket early and often and not settle for so many jump shots. Limit the Nuggets to one shot per possession.”

    By far the best thing you said. Completely agree. Put the Nuggets on their heels right out the gate and send the message early that Kenny Smith, Charles Barkley and Marc Jackson are smokin crack.

  • gugy

    If we play with the same determination and intensity as against Houston’s game 5 and 7, Denver has absolutely no chance.
    It all really depends on the Lakers.

  • AL the Laker Fan you should meet.

    Well this is it. The Lakers should be chomping at the bit to get on the court and play some LA ball, the slip up series was last series… I expect the Lakers to come out and shut all the critics up. I guarantee you that Jerry West made those comments to fire Kobe up. Does anyone else question that it will? I expect to see the Lakers to bring the wood and nail’s and build a coffin for the Denver Nuggets one game at a time. We got to say it loud Laker Nation here we come for redemption one game at a time , one series at a time.

  • AL the Laker Fan you should meet.

    Oh yea this entire playoffs are up to the Lakers and there execution.

  • lakerfan

    LETS GO LAKERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • 187 on a BOSTON SUKDIK

    THE ONLY NUGGETS IM FUKIN WITH ARE KUSH NUGGETS

  • kobe8

    The Lakers need to start fast like they did against Houston in games 5 & 7. If they do that their defense will pick up and Denver won’t be able to come back into the game.

  • Vibe

    why is the game at 6 ? anyways one thing to look for this game i think the lakers shooting % cuz they been shooting an avg of 38-40 so i think its a good thing to see where lakers finsh up the game with.Go lakers.

  • masterkush

    Thuggets got no chance!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=684346052 Zoom Kobe II

    Denver is going to try to intimidate our squad tonight, and probably in game 2. Guys like J.R. Smith and K-Mart are going to get in some peoples’ face and try to get underneath some skin. That said, we need to just go out there and play our game. We saw how emotion affected the LA-Hou series early on, so we just need to focus and play some ball. I say this regarding anyone wearing a Lakers uniform and who is NOT named Kobe Bean Bryant. In fact, I almost hope that Smith and Martin have a few words with 2four. Kobe warned Smith last year, and we all saw what happened. Shake the tree young fellas, shake the tree. Let’s see what bread of tiger falls out this year.

  • Lakers 24 7

    People forget that the Rockets won 22 straight last season with pretty much the same team they have now, minus Artest, plus T-Mac.

  • LakersFirst

    [Comment ID #72050 Will Be Quoted Here]

    Artest made a big impact on that team. He brought toughness to them, and Artest is not that bad of an offensive player. He brought the stability that McGrady can’t.

  • shaunt yemenjian

    it’s hard to describe how overwhelmingly relieved i am after tonight’s game. relief, mind you, is very different from elation. i was elated after magic’s rebound v. portland, #8 lakers vs. #1 suns in 1993, horry’s 3, etc., etc. tonight……simply relieved.

    what i really want is everyone’s opinion as to why i should get excited about the lake show again this season. we got to the nba finals last year without bynum and an unrealized gem [ariza]. this year with a healthy bynum, one of the nba’s best kept defensive secrets in ariza, and a very solid shannon brown, we didn’t even secure homecourt advantage. fine, maybe charles barkley and greg popovich have a point, the regular season matters less than going into the playoffs healthy and with momentum on your side.

    forget for a moment that we were playing at home, or that george karl has yet to win anything in his career, or that we have lamar odom, pao gaol and andrew bynum to neutralize [generous to say the least] the denver bigs while kobe/ariza handle carmelo. they’re young, they make lots of mistakes and they have no answer for kobe bryant or a bynum-gasol frontcourt. i want someone to convince me that phil jackson is even an ‘average’ basketball coach. with 8 min left in the game, down by about 4, we have sasha and farmar on the floor while ariza and brown are riding the pine. was he “saving” their energy….this is the wcf not game 11 of the regular season. these are the world elite athletes, they can run around for 40+ minutes with a few timeouts and some espn commercial breaks! well, pj must have heard my damning incantations, because he put ariza in shortly thereafter and all trev did was nail a triple and then stole the inbound from carter for a breakaway shortly thereafter. DESPITE phil’s coaching, we were able to squeeze this one out. are you excited laker fans? hard to be this season. after the 30 point deficit to the rockets, the seven game series and this narrow escape at home to an inexperienced nuggets team – i find it hard to get excited about this bunch this season.

    i’m convinced that even a trip to the finals is going to end in yet another year of disappointment for a kobe and phil led team. btw, i’ve never known two more contrived personalities.

    i shut off the broadcast with a sense of relief rather than a sense of pride and confidence. i’m sure thousands of laker fans across the nation and at least a couple on this thread shared that same feeling.

    i hope we can find the drive and resilience that cleveland has shown this postseason. in the event we maintain our current levels of motivation, we’re going to need to make some adjustments this offseason:

    since dr. buss clearly can absorb phil’s $12 million salary, i say we fire him and use that $12 million to go $6 million over the cap [and pay the $6 million in luxury tax] next season. couple that with letting lamar walk away, we could have $18 million to #1) re-sign ariza #2) re-sign brown and #3) sign a real point guard like navarro, ramon sessions or if we can sign and trade: sergio rodriguez.

  • Kobe8

    ^^^a win is a win, why you b*tching??