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
- Los Angeles: ESPN
- Denver: ESPN
- Los Angeles: AM570 KLAC (Spero Dedes & Mychal Thompson)
- Denver: KCKK AM1510 (Jerry Schemmel)
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- None to report.