Preview & Chat: The Denver Nuggets

Kurt —  November 1, 2008

Records: Lakers 2-0 Nuggets 1-1
Offensive ratings: Lakers 115.9 Nuggets 104.1
Defensive ratings: Lakers 84.3 Nuggets 101.1
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Vladimir Radmanovic, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Nuggets : Allen Iverson, Anthony Carter, Carmelo Anthony, Kenyon Martin, Nene

Lakers notes: Um, just keep playing like the last couple of games. Keep playing with that same level of defensive intensity. What else is there to say?

The Nuggets Coming In: The good news for the Lakers is they catch the Nuggets on the second night of a back to back, with travel, as they beat the Clippers in LA but had to go to overtime to do it.

The bad news for the Lakers is the Nuggets get Carmelo Anthony back from a two-game suspension. It showed how much then missed him in the first game — Denver played Utah tight (without D-Will), but when it got down to crunch time and they needed someone to take and make the big shot, there were no answers for the Nuggets. Carmelo would have been that answer.

The Nuggets last night beat the Clippers by going to the pick-and-roll heavily, and running it well. Really, their offense consists of: 1) Try to fast break; 2) Pick-and-roll. AT least it did last night and I think we can expect more of the same tonight

Here is what the very wise Jeremy from Pick Axe and Roll said about last night:

Tonight the Nuggets learned how to win with defense. They learned how everyone taking personal responsibility for rebounding will lead to great team rebounding. They learned that it is possible for hem to win without scoring a lot of fast break points. They learned how deadly the pick and roll can be when run correctly. Nene learned how to play with foul trouble. Allen Iverson learned how to play basketball again after a poor preseason. J.R. Smith learned how to take over a game without dominating the ball and taking bad shots. Once they learn these things they will have turned an important corner. I think they may have learned these lessons tonight, but only time will tell….

The way the Nuggets played in the second half, this was a team that I could buy into. They played together on defense, attacked on offense and gave a great effort. Regardless of how much you hate George Karl or want to see Allen Iverson traded or think Kenyon Martin is a thug or hate the front office no Nugget fan could have watched the way they played in the second half and felt indifferent.

Remember that the Nuggets bring a couple very good players off the bench — J.R. Smith and Kleiza

Keys To The Game: For the Lakers, it starts with transition defense — the Nuggets want to get out and run on every possession, they push the ball off misses and makes. If the Lakers don’t get back it will lead to a lot of easy Nuggets buckets, if you make them run their offense (based on pick and rolls almost exclusively) they bog down some. But they have a lot of guys who can score, they will get their points. Just make them work for them.

Also, crash the offensive glass hard, slow the break by forcing Denver to stay in and protect against offensive rebounds.

Even though it is the second game in as many nights for the Nuggets, this is their home opener so they will have some extra adrenalin early. The Nuggets will make a run. The Lakers need to withstand that run and not get flustered.

I think it’s an advantage to play a team you faced in the playoffs last year, because you’ve studied their tendencies. For example, you can slow Melo if you overplay his right hand and make him use the left more. The Lakers did a good job helping on defense in that series, forcing the isolation baseline and being there to with the second man. We need to see that again.

The Nuggets don’t have a defensive answer for Kobe (remember he had 49 points and 10 assists in game two of the playoff series last year). This could be a good night for his fantasy fans. Of course, they had no answer for Gasol in that series either. And they didn’t have to deal with Bynum.

Where you can watch:KCAL 9 here in Los Angeles. Nationally you’ll need league pass. Check the comments for live streams.