No Time To Rest — First Denver Thoughts

Kurt —  May 17, 2009

NBA: APR 09 Nuggets at Lakers
I’m not going to list all the quotes, suffice to say that after the game the Lakers players all said the right things about lessons learned and bringing this game seven energy and effort to the next series and so on. Take it with a grain of salt, they’ve said that all year. But we can hope.

There’s not a lot of time to break down the Nuggets, but we’re going to start right away, and do so with some thoughts from the very good Jeremy at Roundball Mining Company. As people who were around last playoffs will tell you, Jeremy knows basketball and the Nuggets, and you’ll see a fair amount of him here in the coming weeks.

The thing that has impressed me about the Nuggets so far in the playoffs has been their interior defense — it was a weakness a year ago, now they look good. Is that because of the competition they faced in the postseason (fearsome offensive forces like Tyson Chandler and Eric Dampier), or are they actually better?

The Nuggets defense is still a little up and down, but the up is so far beyond anything they have been capable of in the past. Denver has been fortunate to play a couple of teams that did not provide much of an interior threat. Tyson Chandler was clearly far from healthy and David West had no chance to score against Kenyon Martin in the post so he shot nothing but jumpers.

Against Dallas Erick Dampier lacked the talent to attack the Nuggets’ interior defense, but Dirk demolished whoever tried guarding him in the post, but Denver basically refused to double him for fear of giving up a hoard of open three pointers.

Should Denver play the Lakers I fully expect Pau Gasol to make life miserable for the Nuggets. There is no one who matches up very well with him. Chris Andersen is probably the best matchup, but I do not think he can cover Gasol very long without Pau getting him in foul trouble.

To me the key is Andrew Bynum. If Bynum is healthy and contributing, the Lakers will have a big advantage in the paint. Nene has appeared intimidated by Bynum on offense and if Nene is matched up against Bynum Kenyon Martin will be guarding Gasol. Needless to say Pau has a big advantage of Kenyon with his length and he would dominate that matchup.

If Bynum is only playing a few minutes and Odom is playing the rest that makes things much more palatable for Denver. Nene has the strength to force Pau off the block and Kenyon can stay with Odom wherever he wants to go.

A big key this year from last year is Dahntay Jones provides a much better option to guard Kobe thus allowing Kenyon to guard someone else. Jones was the key to defending Chris Paul, but in the second
round he was not nearly as important as Anthony Carter was a much better matchup for defending Jason Terry. Next round, Jones will be much more important.

Kurt

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231 responses to No Time To Rest — First Denver Thoughts

  1. I’m just curious to see which team shows more poise and experience.

    Will it be us, with multiple titles in Kobe and Fisher?

    Or will it be Denver, with Chauncey Billups?

    Pre Billups, I think Denver as a team/franchise were intimidated by us; would be interesting if that changes. So the first game will be a test – if we can place doubt in the mind of the Nuggets while gaining confidence (esp. our bigs), this will be fun.

    If not, we’ll have another long series.

  2. Odom needs to guard Melo

  3. Will Melo continue his struggles against The lakers?

  4. Shane battier and ron artest pretty much own anyone who has guarded Kobe in the past.

    I clearly don’t see dahntay jones randomly become a good defender on Kobe. Ya, he may annoy Kobe like how he defended Chris Paul but the truth is that Kobe is probably WAY Happier being guarded by him than shane. Shane pretty much used all the tactics to try and get Kobe out of his game, and even though some worked, it was not all effective. I dont understand what makes some people think that Denver is miraculously such a good defensive team because they beat the mavericks and new orleans. Cmon, give me a break.

  5. Some writer said it well: Battier is like the anti-Kobe because Battier is cerebral, studies angles and tendencies. Kobe, with his high basketball IQ on top of his skills, generally picks apart defenders like Jones – young defenders who rely primarily on athleticism.

    Jones doesn’t appear extraordinarily long, either, which has typically bothered Kobe. Can’t see them doing much against Kobe without help.

  6. The Lakers bench will have to play better than they have in the past two series.

  7. Who’s Kobe gonna guard in the next series? Dhantay Jones? I figure we’ll some of the following:

    Nene – Bynum
    Kenyon – Pau
    Melo – Ariza
    Jones – Kobe
    Billups – Fish

    Melo is going to eat Ariza up. One of the bigs is going to have to help when Melo penetrates. Most likely, Pau will have to sag on Kenyon when Melo has the ball.

    Also, Pau is going to have to play TALL and for Billups when he’s got the rock. Fish will not be able to guard him and the Lakers will need to team effort to cover up their matchup deficiencies.

  8. Just got done watching the game. I watched it on DVR after getting back from seeing Star Trek, which was good and definitely worth seeing even if, like me, you are not a Star Trek fan. Great game by the Lakers. The D was good all night, even the PnR defense. Gasol was dominant with a Dwight Howard like 21 and 18. Bynum did what we need him to do, taking advantage of his size to change shots and grab rebounds. Kobe did a good job attacking the basket even if he shot a low % he created opportunities for Pau to get O rebounds.

    The series against Denver should be fun. Overall I think the Lakers match up much better against the Nuggets than Houston. As good as Denver is playing they have not gone up against a team with the size and inside game of the Lakers.

    I think Phil sticks with the big line up with Drew in the middle which creates match up problems since I do not think Martin can guard Pau (I also do not think Nene can either for that matter). Kobe should feel a lot freer this series since Battier will not be shadowing him every game.

    Denver has some match up advantages as well. I think their bench is better than ours with Kleiza, Birdman and Smith bring a lot of energy and scoring ability. Billups and of course Melo (who has been playing great) prevent problems for the Lakers. Luke usually does a decent job on Melo and I think Ariza should try and play Ball denial sicne I do not think he is big enough to Guard Melo.

  9. kobe can guard billups…especially late in a close game to lock him down

  10. I think we may see some of last year’s (earlier this season) starting lineup variations against the nuggets.

    Fisher – Chauncey
    Kobe – Jones
    Walton – Melo
    Pau – Kenyon
    Bynum – Nene

    With
    Farmar, Ariza and Odom coming off the bench.

  11. The post battles in the regular season between Kobe and Jones were quite chippy, so expect to see more of that as they jostle for position. Also expect to see Jones pick up more fouls than Battier did, as Jones has not built up his reputation as a defender, and also does not hide his fouls as well as Battier, so it’s a bad combo for Jones.

  12. I actually am very optimistic about these match-ups. I expect Odom to get more minutes guarding Melo simply because he can potentially shut down Carmelo Anthony. Bynum would start against Nene and that’s that. We don’t need Lamar being an offensive threat in the conference finals, and if he focuses on keeping Melo and KMart locked out then there’s very little interior threat.

    Nobody on the Nuggets will shut down Kobe.

    My only concern is Chauncey. He’s too quick for Fish and too smart/calm for Farmar or Shannon Brown.

    Maybe you (one of the guys above) are right in that Kobe would shut down Chauncey late in the fourth.

  13. Matchup is everything in NBA. While we match up terribly vs. HOU, POR, and NO, we match up great vs. DEN, DAL, SA, and UTAH. Teams with quick penetrating PGs, athletic wing defenders, and good 3pt shooting give us a lot of trouble. One of Denver’s strength is shooting 3′s especially by JR Smith and Chauncey. However, even with Dahntay Jones, they’ll have a lot of difficulty with dealing with Kobe. I think the key will be Bynum as the post stated. If Bynum plays big, it would be impossible to contain both Bynum and Gasol. If he doesn’t, our advantage in the post will be reduced, and Kobe will have to carry more scoring load as he did in HOU series. That would make it tough for us.

    Our key on defense will be containing Melo. What helps our team is that we can use SSZ to force Melo to shoot outside shots, which Ariza will contend, or he’ll have to swing the ball to get either JR or Chauncey open looks. If Anthony Carter or Kleiza catch fire on 3s, we could have some serious problem, but that’s highly unlikely, so we probably won’t be hurt by their outside shooting too much.

    The clear difference between the Denver’s previous foes and the Lakers will be the way we execute on offense and our depth. They won’t be able generate as many easy points off TOs as they did in earlier series, and we will be just as deep if not deeper with our bench. Thus, Denver won’t get as many transition opportunities as they did earlier, meaning they’ll have to execute their half court sets. I think we know who’ll have the advantage if it comes to that.

    It will be a good series, but I could see it go as short as 5 or as long as 7, but I think the Lakers will prevail. I’m predicting the Lakers in 5.

  14. I find the idea of Jones, Smith or Martin slowing down Kobe laughable. While all three are very athletic they have nowhere near the bball IQ or the savvy to bother #24. Kobe will do whatever he wants in this series and is capable of going for at least 40 every game if he so chooses.

  15. I repeat Walton or Ariza shouldn’t guard Melo. Lamar needs to guard him because hes the one who has had the most success

  16. I’m sorry, as much as the talkin’ heads try to divine a Denver series win from the Lakers’ struggles against Houston, I’m licking my chops for the Nuggets.

    1) Billups scares me, but not as much as D-will and A. Brooks–Billups’ slower pace is much more our (read: Fish’s) tempo

    2) Odom is a nightmare for Melo–how that match-up works out with the rotation is another story

    3) Denver will be good for Bynum–they play to his game. Recall that in our last win v. Denver Bynum lit up the Nuggs with 16 pts, 7 boards in a little less than two quarters in his first game back.

    4) No Artest or Battier–sorry Dantay, despite the elevation, Kobe’s going to love the extra oxygen without Battier’s hand over his mouth on every shot. (Hats off to Battier for scaring the socks off all of us.)

    5) Despite their defensive improvements, Denver’s still a push-the-ball team–a welcomed respite from the Utah’s and Houston’s of the world–I expect Vujacic and others to find their shots this series

    6) Denver fans are loud, but their Kobe hate will destroy them–Nuggs fans (like Artest) don’t get it, Kobe feeds off the taunting–he’s got to be averaging over 30 a game in Denver the past 5 seasons…

    Aside from J.R. Smith and Billups, I love the way we match up and love the noise from the nay-sayers–this team plays much better when the expectations are lower (I hope).

  17. Denver has no one to stop Kobe, unless that has changed from last year’s playoffs, remember Kobe taking over games and he was unstoppable. This year with the team playing together even better, I think he will attract a lot of attention leaving others open for easy baskets.

  18. The Nuggets are not the Rockets. Expect Laker offense to roll. Defense will be the key.

  19. well boston is done, you never know, the combo of howard and 3 point shooting might catch the cavs of guard, id say cavs in 5 or 6 though

  20. The Celtics are dead – ha, ha, ha

    Sorry I have nothing more intelligent to say, but I was a Laker fan in the 60′s, so I doubt you can understand my pure dislike for that franchise.

  21. Both game 7′s ended in 19pt victories.

  22. Whew, glad Boston is done!

  23. PeanutButterSpread May 17, 2009 at 7:42 pm

    First off, wow, I’m glad the Lakers/Rockets series is over. I give credit to the Rockets for being fired up at their home and giving it their all to the Lakers.

    That being said, it’s irritating me how people are writing off the Lakers after this series and practically pronouncing a Nuggets/Cavs finals.

    I know the Lakers haven’t shown “effort” or “heart” (whatever that all means) and that they can be playing much much much better on the road or just in general, but come on, the Rockets are no Dallas Mavs, Hornets, Hawks, or whoever the Cavs swept this year.

    I don’t understand how the Lakers being pushed to 7 games in this series is any different than the Celtics being pushed to 7 games against the Hawks and the Cavs last year. What are ppl saying the Celtics didn’t give effort/heart and that they didn’t deserve to be champions just cuz they got pushed to 7 games against teams they clearly could “crush” because of their “superb talent”?!

    It baffles me that “analysts” like Kenny Smith and Barkley will say “if they Lakers win a championship, they don’t deserve it.” Because of this one series when “they played relying on talent and not the proverbial heart/effort.”

    I don’t think the Lakers played without heart/effort. I really believe the Rockets were fueled by emotions from their home crowd, etc etc. just like how the Hawks were spurred by their home crowd last year to defeat the Celtics.

    Anyways, for all the crap we give the Lakers for not playing to their full potential/capabilities, I still believe they will come around. Maybe I’m being foolish, but I’m not going to write this team off just yet.

  24. Cayucos Surfer May 17, 2009 at 7:44 pm

    Pau went off in Game 1 against Denver last year, because they had absolutely no game plan or answer for him. I expect them to be slightly better prepared this year obviously, but they still don’t have anyone who can guard Pau or Kobe. Not to mention Melo’s struggles against us. I think we would take this series in 6 or 7 even without Bynum. With him, i’d say 5 or 6 games we should be able to handle it. Then again, that’s me assuming the Lakers actually decide to show up for most of games. We can only hope.

  25. I guess there goes our chance for revenge i knew the C’s wouldn’t repeat without a healthy KG but they had a great year nevertheless I think there run may be over. I think Orlando can take the Cav’s the distance

  26. What do you guys think about a Laker Magic final?

  27. If Orlando can’t beat the Cavs, I hope they don’t give them much trouble. I’d prefer a heavy-favorite Cavs team that hasn’t been battle-tested in the Finals.

    But first things first… Denver. I think both Kobe and Fish will find their jobs a little bit easier from here on out.

  28. I think Chauncy is a better matchup for Fish, but Denver still has a definite advantage on us at this position. I just hope Ariza can keep Melo within reason. If Bynum can stay even with Nene, then I think Pau and Kobe can do a lot of damage.

  29. Kobe will be unstoppable this series. Jones won’t be able to bother him; he’s a so-so wing defender, and nothing like the caliber of defenders that Battier and Artest are. Moment Kobe gets him into foul trouble, Denver has to put either Kleiza, who is too slow to guard Kobe, Smith, who can’t guard anyone, or ‘Melo, who doesn’t have the quickness. On the other end, this will be a repeat of the Utah series in that Kobe will sag off Jones to help.

    Gasol will find it a lot easier against Martin the post, as he doesn’t have the length to bother his shot that much. Bynum needs to be active, as Nene runs very well in transition. Biggest problem will be Ariza on ‘Melo, as ‘Melo can overpower Ariza like Artest did, so a healthy dose of Odom or Walton may be warranted. ‘Melo has performed really poorly against us in the past though.

  30. I am thinking its going to be an LA Orlando final

  31. 19 – Certainly Shaq would be hard pressed to keep his mouth shut about such a series.

    Seriously, though, it seems Orlando could be a handful for our heroes. Didn’t the Lakers lose both regular season games to the Magic?

  32. I hope Cleveland beats Orlando. Our bigs are going to play extra small when facing Dwight, and it’s going to be ugly after that.

    If this game 7 marks the turning point for Orlando’s 3pt shooting, they should be considered favorites. From what I saw in the regular season, Dwight is the one person that can deter LeBron’s drives, and if LeBron is worried about driving into the paint, the series will be over before it starts.

    Still, I believe that the league has vested interest in a LeBron – Kobe final (and ending up in a 7 game series with both trading clutch baskets) so Cleveland will win (home court does count too of course).

  33. NBA is praying the Finals don’t end up Orlando – Denver

  34. Lakers Magic final? Not gonna happen. No one is stopping the Lebron train to the finals. Cleveland is just as good, probably better than Boston defensively. And who can stay in front of Lebron on Orlando?

  35. 24. Exaclty, how many times will Lebron put howard in foul trouble, my guess..alot

  36. “You’re telling me the Orlando Magic defense is better than the Detroit Pistons defense?”

    – the wisdom of Kenny Smith

    Words like this make me lose more hope in humanity every day.

  37. I think Kenny meant the Detroit defense of a couple years ago when Lebron schooled them a couple years ago.

  38. 28. it isn’t the defense of magic that kill Lakers though, it is their three pointer.

    On another Notes, Lakers vs Nugget is going to be sad, if Billup does a lot of pick and roll… Which i pretty sure he is good at. Let just hope Fisher have enough energy to actually guard Billup.

  39. Boston’s reign comes to an end. It’s too bad, I had always wanted to see them in the Finals again. Only that ending would have felt truly fitting. But the fall of Boston feels damn good either way.

    I doubt we’ll see this lineup, but should we consider Lamar at the 3 if we want him to guard Melo? I think Jeremy was dead on – Bynum will create the most mismatches. We need him to play major minutes this series.

  40. true, melo has struggled against us in the past, but the most recent game he had an AWFUL lot of success slicing through our defense and finishing in traffic, Luke or no Luke. Stopping him won’t be easy

  41. The key for this series will be the play of Gasol and Bynum. If both of these guys play soft D, then we have no chance.

  42. I really, really hope Phil shows the Lakers Charles Barkley’s comments from tonight. Mostly stupidity, but it could really piss our guys off and hopefully give them some motivation.

  43. Snoopy2006,
    I hope Phil shows the team the conversation between Charles, Kenny, and Chris. They all are rooting against the Lakers because they feel the Lakers don’t respect the game enough and don’t get up for all the games. They are POed because they say they never got to play with as much talent as the Lakers have. Of course Charles’ last year was with Hakeem Olajuwon and Kenny; so he just dised his partner and The Dream.

  44. Who cares what Barkley, Smith and Webber have to say about playoff basketball. Barkley and Webber never got it done on the big stage and Smith was role player on a team that needed Jordan to retire or else they wouldnt have won anything.

  45. i think saying the lakers disrespect the game is going too far. it’s them but at least i can say it’s not a deliberate “we’ll go hibernate during even numbered games” thing. credit due to the rockets and the sag in lakers game. also the coaching staff needs to think about a lot of things over this summer. glad the series is over.

    my hats off to the celtics for stretching it to 7. the rise of rondo and davis can be helpful in the long run. but the road next year for them will be much tougher.

    am excited by the denver matchup. something strange in me, and no it’s not overconfidence (after houston, i think a lot are looking down at our chances just look at sports nation surveys) tells me we’d be having an easier time here, even marginal, than against houston. that is if pau plays like game 7 pau, bynum throws down alleyoops like it’s the hornets, lamar shouts at and 1 plays, ariza has a clear lane to dunk, the bench resurrects and if kobe doesn’t have to be kobenova.

    yes, i said, kobe does not have to be kobenova. yes, on paper, things will be easier for him. he can focus on the likes of billups. i’d like smoother team play than standing around and watching kobe take jumpers (and jr smith taking the bate).

    cleveland-orlando looks niicee.

    GO LAKERS!

  46. The Lakers will win due to the fact that the Nuggets are good….Check out this article that goes further in depth…

    http://kaliphornya.wordpress.com/2009/05/17/the-nuggets-are-good-the-sole-reason-the-lakers-will-not-lose/

  47. I had to talk about the Kenny and Charles comments saying that they are betting, oh I mean rooting against the lakers. First of all lets give more credit to the Rockets for playing their asses off this series. Also the lakers are still a very inexperienced group. Fisher and Kobe are the only players that have rings, so they are going to be an up and down team sometimes. As far as Chuck, I can think of a certain shorthanded laker team that was led by Worthy and Divac that pushed his much more talented Suns team to the limit in the early 90s. Did that mean that Chuck and his Suns team were giving half assed effort? Its not the first time Barkley has put his foot in his mouth on live t.v. , but I’m shocked that Kenny agreed to it.

  48. I hope the Lakers see the TNT crew’s comments too. However, they shouldn’t just feel pissed and fired up because they are ‘dissed,’ but rather they are also moved in some way about seizing the opportunity. Chuck’s was a speech of an old man who looks back on his career and sees something terribly missing. I hope we look at that and realize we don’t want to be in the same position down the road.

    Some things I’ve gathered watching Denver play in these playoffs:

    - First and foremost, they are a frontrunning team. If they get a lead, they will pound you and never look back. Everything flows better, passes click, and they knock down 3′s. I hope PJ is quick with TO’s. When games have been close, they all seem to defer to Billups and rely on him to create. They’ve been fortunate that he has hit some very difficult shots in these situations. If he doesn’t, and they go down, I would expect some mental errors and more lackadaisical play. If he does, I hope our guys don’t try to match him by jacking up shots on the other end.

    - They switch a lot of screens. They have versatile and athletic defenders that are well suited for this. But we cannot get caught up in trying to take advantage of mismatches and let that stifle our offensive flow. I’ve felt that mismatches, especially small on O against a big, are overrated and lead to stagnating possessions. Unless it’s a clear mismatch, run our offense and the mismatches will work themselves out, either off cuts or offensive rebounds, etc.

    - While they have defensive talent, they lack discipline. They will jump passing lanes and leave their feet to contest shots. We need to be smart and patient and give the necessary pump fakes, lest the Birdman be featured in transition highlight wheels.

    - Carmelo does a great job of finding new angles when he is doubled. He likes to use a quick dribble away from the baseline, using the momentum of the helper against him. We must cut this off, as it opens up all sorts of options for them.
    The other thing is he uses his body very well in the lane, and that’s how he gets to the line. We must use our length to disrupt his shots (he gets blocked surprisingly easily because he forces up interior shots) instead of getting out of position and fouling.
    Lastly, I don’t agree he is the best scorer in the game, as long as 24 is still playing. He is still too streaky and can be taken out of his game when defended well. People are hopping on the bandwagon too quickly when Den played two teams that did not match up well against Carmelo.

  49. I am sorry, its just hard for me to see the Nuggets winning this series. It has already been mentioned, they got no answer for Kobe or Gasol.

  50. oh ya one more thing…this forum needs to change its name to PURPLE AND GOLD!…We’re not Blue and Gold!

  51. Bynum has a huge length advantage over nene. He still doesn’t have his lift yet but he found a way to be very effective today. I’m very excited about this kid going forward. I hope his knee is getting stronger over time because watching him today reminded me of how important he is to this team.

  52. The key in this series is Pau not getting owned by Kenyon and Nene. Both Pau and Bynum have to use every single pound in their body to keep them off the block on defense and post em down under the basket on offense. They also NEED to be good help defenders. You know they are gonna do that funneling stuff all day with chauncey and anthony carter and melo. But if our bigs are actually that…bigs…in this game and kobe dominates, which i expect him to, we will take this in 4 or 5. But knowing the lakers i think theyre gonna give a game away so i expect them to win this in 6

  53. @38 Do some research.

    It will be interesting to see how Bynum plays against the more athletically explosive Denver front line. Hopefully the increased level of competition will help him round into form.

  54. AL from Las Vegas May 17, 2009 at 9:37 pm

    To my beloved Lakers,
    At the beginning of this season, we all talked about the following FIRST FIVE.

    ADREW BYNUM
    PAU GASOL
    LAMAR ODOM
    KOBE BRYANT
    DEREK FISHER

    To the Coaching Staff….How about trying this line up????

  55. The key is playing hard for 48 minutes. We have to win both games 1 and 2 to set the tone. Should be fun, but we had better respect Denver and come correct.

  56. 36, i think you are right, i am convinced that the lakers definitely play up to the level of their opponents, i know it’s early to think ahead, but i could forsee this trend coming back to hurt them if they make it to the finals (cleveland has home court over them) and the lakers should have won the regular season overall; they lost a bunch of ridiculous games to subpar teams

  57. We’re not blue. We’re Forum Blue.

    Here: http://www.forumblueandgold.com/forum-blue/

  58. I don’t think the league would mind Denver – Cleveland as they’ll have the Melo vs. LeBron angle.

    Denver – Orlando would be somewhat hard to sell; LA – Orlando will only be slightly better.

    Anyway, I have a hard time taking the Nuggets seriously (as hard as I try to) so this doesn’t bode well for us ;)

    My prediction is that we lose home court in Game1 or Game2, split one again on their court, and emerge victorious in 6.

    Thought I’d play the prediction game to get a chance at saying ‘i told you so’. I’d be glad even if I’m wrong as long as we advance.

  59. PeanutButterSpread May 17, 2009 at 9:55 pm

    Snoopy2006 and Craig W. –

    I got pretty pissed watching TNT, I don’t understand how anyone can say the Lakers don’t deserve to go to the finals let alone win it all.

    I get. We all get it. the Lakers sometimes play down to their competition, rely too much on their talent, don’t give enough effort, are soft, don’t have heart, don’t have the proverbial “killer instinct, cliche, exaggerated cliche, after cliche.

    Sure the Lakers haven’t always been 100% amazing against crappy teams, but when they have played against good teams, the Lakers have stepped up (hello to 4-0 against the Cavs/Celtics) this year.

    Plus a 65 win team is hardly anything to say they didn’t play hard or deserve to win those 65 games they did win.

    It’s kinda sucks being the Lakers when it comes to it. Expectations are so high that they not only have to win the championship, apparently they have to obliterate everybody in their path to do so.

    It’s kinda unreasonable to expect that, especially considering how young most of our players are. I don’t care if they’ve been to the finals once … it’s most of their second run and even during the 3-peat days, it took a couple cracks at the playoffs before they were “battle-ready”.

    Of course, the Nuggets have changed considerably since acquiring Billups, and I do think they’ll pose a great challenge for the Lakers, but if the Lakers can win the first two games at home, I won’t be too worried about the series. I just hope Phil also shows that film reel of the TNT guys hating on the Lakers to fuel the Lakers.

  60. If the LA is fortunate enough to get past Denver, I’m guessing they would want to see cleveland.

    I get the feeling that Orlando would be able to tear up the Lakers…LOL. OK, even I couldn’t keep a straight face for that.

    LA in 6 over Denver
    Clevland in 7 over Orlando

    LA in 6 over Cleveland

  61. Lakers in 5.

    Magic in 6.

  62. ESPN Expert Picks:

    3 Pick Denver in 6;
    6 pick LA in 7;
    and Jalen Rose picks LA in 6

    So that doesn’t bode well when Jalen Rose is the only one picking the Lakers in less than 7 games.

  63. How are the Lakers going to defend the 3-ball against Billups, Melo, JR and company? That’s a lil scary.

  64. Im goin with the Lakers in 5

  65. harrydoballin May 17, 2009 at 10:28 pm

    i have to be honest…. i was scared about Houston in a game 7. they are a matchup “hell” for us. Kobe was in a dogfight with 2 of the best perimeter defenders in the game. Fisher was exploited by the water bug combo of lowry and brookes. But there are no super clear advantages in the next series. Except for Kobe. And he makes his hay in denver. Their interior defense boost was due solely to an injured tyson chandler and erick dampier down low. I hate to say it but Nene and birdman are no chuck hayes/carl landry. I might be thinking ridiculously but i dont see how the lakers lose this series….thoughts?

  66. sorry laker fans but a nuggets fan here has to say your forgetting martin will beat up gasol and yes melo will tear up ariza but the problem your forgetting is odom has to take smith or else he will torch you from 3 point range yes we may not be talented enough to take the series but we will if your boys try to slack off like they did agaainst the rockets plus the nuggets dont feel at all respected that will be a rallying call for them

  67. Kobe must be salivating at the chance of being guarded by Jones after a steady diet of Battier and Artest.

  68. That was unnecessary. All CB said was something that might happen. Gasol can get pushed around… but usually not when he is at PF. Martin is too short. And why would we ever put Odom on JR Smith? Does Smith play PF now? The problem as always is at the PG spot for the Lakers… where they are always overmatched unless they play the Arenus less Wizards. But the Lakers just match up too well with Denver. Lakers in 4 or 5.

  69. ya stech that is exactly the attitude that your boys probably had against the rockets and it almost cost them didnt it??? and the question is can gasol handle martins elbows and pushing and other unseen things all game and what if jr gets hot say another 11 three point game???????????????????dont underestimate denver some of you are smart enough to realize that some arent

  70. The Dude Abides May 17, 2009 at 10:50 pm

    I would imagine that stech’s response to the Denver fan above will get deleted shortly.

    49. cb, Scola is twice the offensive player Martin is and almost as dirty on the defensive end. Pau will eat K-Mart up, and if Ariza isn’t strong enough for Melo, Luke will body him up and force him into our help defense, like he’s done nearly every game against Denver for the past two seasons.

  71. you need someone with some length to cover jr yes i agree odom is a good matchup on melo but you need someone with the quickness and the length to disrupt jr’s shot and yes kobe can score at will he’s the greatest player in the game but if the lakers win it’s because he involves the whole team

  72. Adam Morrison can defend JR Smith’s shot while wearing his 3-piece suit from the bench.

    JR doesn’t scare the Lakers.

  73. 50: Yeah, that definitely wasn’t called for. We’re better than that.

    Back to the point, I like how here and other sites that Denver wins one series, now 2 and they think they’ll just win it all.

    I’ll give them THAT for optimism, but back to facts.

    Denver fans, act like you’ve been here before.

    Notwithstanding, the Kobe/Pau advantage trumps the Billups advantage.

  74. gabriel r dont worry im one of those nuggets fan who will be back to admit you guys were right if i turn out to be wrong but i still say that we have a chance if jr can hit his shot and melo doesnt struggle like he always seems to against la and i realize it’s a big if but if jones can rattle kobe like he did paul and take him out of his game it will be a bonus i really dont think karl cares if jones gets in foul trouble if he can get to kobe like artest started to and no im not comparing artest to jones the big question is can la stop denvers scoring spurts and can denver play any d

  75. In the first 3 games Lamar was on melo (if I remember right) which was why he didn’t play well. Then the 4th game we played against them in the regular season Luke was on him and Melo got whatever he wanted

  76. 72,
    And lets not forget… Bynum traditionally has his way with Nene and it looks like he is getting back his rhythm, but of course his explosiveness wont come back till the off season. The Lakers have the advantage at SG, PF, and C. They have the best 6th man in the series (Odom) and the better coach. The Lakers also have the home court advantage. It doesn’t look good for the Nuggets.

  77. This also will be the first actual playoff team (Hornets and Mavs are very average) the Nuggets will face so far in the post season. Its also the first time Denver will have to start off a series on the road… something that was a tough adjustment for the Lakers in last years NBA Finals.

  78. cb,

    Martin is going to have a hard time in the post against Gasol. It was one thing to guard West’s jumpers (seeing as he was too injured to drive), but Nowitzki tore Martin up when he tried to guard him one-on-one because Denver refused to double him. Gasol has a better post game than Nowitzki, and Martin is simply too short to bother his shot that much. You obviously can’t double him or you leave Bynum open, and you really had no answer for Gasol last year either. Andersen is a so-so matchup, but if you put him on Gasol too long, he’s going to get into foul trouble because he’s still too indiscriminate in what he attempts to block.

    Also, Kobe is a problem for you because aside from the problem that you have no one to guard him, he’s going to feel liberated after having Battier and Artest in his face all series. Jones isn’t even remotely the same tier of defender. If Kobe gets him into foul trouble — which he probably will frequently mind you — then you have to guard him with a selection of Kleiza (too slow) or Smith (can’t guard anyone, especially not Kobe).

    If Karl insists on not doubling either Kobe or Gasol — which has been his mantra in the past — then you’re going to get torched by both of them, and when both of them are going, the rest of our offense gets going owing to how good Kobe and Gasol are at finding the open man. For the other matchups, Fisher will have an easier time on Billups (although that is naturally an advantage for Denver) than the speedy point guards he is used to, ‘Melo has been bodied up and pushed into our help by Walton well in the past and I suspect Ariza may see less minutes against him, and Bynum has a size advantage on Nene.

    I just view your inevitable problem being that you still are primarily an offensive-minded team. Defense is secondary to putting up 100+ on your opponent, and while you may play defense slightly more consistently than us, your offense definitely isn’t as good and our defense is better when we decide to turn the switch on. The Lakers tend to struggle when forced into a grind-it-out half-court game (which is what Boston and Houston do), but against a team that thrives in transition and the open court like Denver, we’re going to be hyperefficient offensively.

    Lakers in 6. Wouldn’t be surprised to see less games if the switch is on from the start though.

  79. @ 60

    Lakers seeing Orlando in the finals is no joke…Ive noticed the lakers struggle when

    1) they are playing against a small line up

    2) when they are playing against a team that can size it up from 3 point range as orlando can and spread the floor!

    The lakers do not play good one-on-one defense (aside from kobe and trevor) and orlando can and will hurt us if they are knocking their shots down.

    Cuz all thats gonna happen is we get into a 3 point shooting contest with them, and I dont like our chances against them if we just jack up 3 pointers.

    I hope we play clevland, a more predictable and fundamental team.

  80. Mimsy: thanks for clearing that up

    72: my fault, i did not mean to offend anyone on that comment.

  81. just out of topic: I sure wish the greens got dethroned w/ KG in his game shirt on…and perhaps courtesy of a finals loss to LA. still, i’m happy w/ the way things are truning out.

  82. first, rather than contribute to the echo chamber of the lakers “on again, off again” mindset, i’ll go out on a limb–and give the houston rockets credit. other than the boston series last year, they presented the most difficult matchup for the lakers. the lakers responded differently after adversity in this series than they did last year (compare games 3,5, and 7 to last years game 4 and 6). me thinks that’s progress.

    second, if the lakers hadn’t had a week off prior to game one and had kobe not been overcoming the effects of being ill does anybody think the rockets still steal game one? i don’t. if that doesn’t happen the lakers win games one and two at home, split on the road and clinch in five. all the chatter about the lakers lack of “energy and intensity” would be hearsay.

    third, i’m kind of glad they had to play a game seven. the celtics did twice last year and that didn’t seem to hurt them at all. cleveland isn’t going to win every game and i wonder what will happen the first time they find themselves in a tough spot. my prediction, they will feel it after going down 1-0 at home to the lakers.

    fourth, the nuggets are better with chauncy and not ai, but they’re not the rockets. they’re not even the spurs team the lakers faced in last year’s west finals. kobe, pao, lo on melo matchups are all in lakers favor. the x-factor for the lakers in games 5 and 7 was andrew and the x-factor against denver will be andrew. let’s not forget he’s only played in sixteen games since coming off of major knee surgery. improvement is what i’m looking for and he’s showing stretches of better play; more activity on defense, less fouls sending him to the bench. i expect that trend to continue against nene and the nuggets. with andrew holding down the middle, that frees everyone else up to do what they do best and i think it no coincidence the lakers are at their best when andrew is at his best. and when the lakers are at their best, they’re better than everyone. we know what we’re gonna get from kobe, and fish, and pao, etc. drew is the difference maker.

    if the lakers win both games one and two at home, and i’m betting they do, the series is over. if denver is to win and prove chucky, kenny and all the haters out there rght, the nuggets have to win game one or two, and it would be better for them to win game one, and get an edge at the beginning. if they don’t, this’ll be a short series.

    lakers in five.

    i think david stern is already producing kobe-lebron commercials.
    ~cmh

  83. Man, you know you’re in homer central when multiple people are seriously talking about Luke Walton shutting down Melo.

  84. Jif,

    He has effectively used his size to force ‘Melo into our help defense. He’s not going to “shut him down” by any stretch of the imagination, but ‘Melo has had bad games traditionally against the Lakers. This isn’t homeristic at all — it’s a statement of the facts.

    I’m inclined to believe that ‘Melo will be effective in this series and test the Lakers’ help defense; I’m just fairly certain it isn’t going to be a series clinching fact.

  85. I think Denver is an easier matchup for the Lakers than Houston. If Utah was a 5 and Houston a 9, Denver would be a 6.5 I’m not saying that overall Denver’s a worse team than Houston. I think they are the legitimate second best team in the West and they deserve to be in the WCF, but they simply do not match up well against the Lakers.

    Starting with Billups. He’s a great PG but he’s not the type that gives fits to the Lakers. I think guys like Brooks, Jameer Nelson, Raymond Felton, D-Will, and CP3 are mutch tougher matchups for the Lakers.

    Secondly, after being tag-teamed by Artest and Battier, anyone would feel like a vacation for Kobe.

    Thirdly if Bynum shows any kind of inside presence, KMart has to guard Gasol which he is absolutely incapable of.

    Just overall, Denver is like a Lakers-lite. They play a brand of basketball that’s basically a slightly lesser version of Lakers ball, and their defensive deficiencies are a lot bigger than the previous rounds have shown.

  86. I think this series will come down to the Lakers D, unlike last series which I felt was dependent on the Lakers offensive execution. The Nuggets defense is improved but I think they will have a much tougher time disrupting the Lakers O than houston did and then they did disrupting Dallas and NO. As others and I have mentioned, Gasol is a big match up problem for Denver. I do not think that Kenyon Martin can guard him. Also Bynum’s size should be effective against Nene. This is the first team in the play offs that Denver has played that is bigger than they are and that can score inside. So we should see just how improved their interior D really is.

    I think the X-factor for the Lakers will be Bynum and the Lakers transition defense. If he can use his size to get easy points, take Nene out of his game and change some shots around the basket that will make it much easier on the Lakers. The Lakers will also have to get back on D to prevent easy points for the nuggets and they have to match up with the Nuggets shooters.

    The X-factor for Denver is going to be Smith and to a lesser extent Kleiza (who ididn’t play in their last game is he injured? or in the dog house?). Both are capable of scoring in bunches.

  87. the other Stephen May 18, 2009 at 7:07 am

    all the better to break out the Socks then.

  88. Don W,
    It is interesting you talk about Denver being a front running team. So are the Lakers. Now we have two teams with many of the same characteristics.

    The advantage for the Lakers would seem to be 1) their experience in the triangle vs Denver’s inexperience in the Chauncey system, 2) Denver’s two top scorers are not as consistent as the Lakers (Pau & Kobe vs Melo and JR), 3) the Lakers top front court players are taller and at least just as athletic as Denver’s (Pau & Bynum vs Martin & Nene).

    The advantage for the Nuggets would seem to be 1) Chauncey – but I think Fisher fares better here than in SLC or Houston, 2) Melo – but Denver can’t win with only Melo any more than LA can win with only Kobe, 3) Denver’s top 10 players are not as young as the Laker’s – but LA’s have more post game experience.

    I refuse to pick the number of games, but I really think the Houston experience will benefit the Lakers – thank you Houston and I think you should be feared in the future.

  89. I meant to say “post season experience” instead of “post game experience”

  90. Guys, after watching game 7 Sunday, I’ve come up with a Theory that might sound rediculous, but, seems to be making sense.

    I think that, Lakers wanted to win games 4 and 6, but, were coached in such a way that it didn’t matter if they lost, but on Purpose. The reason? To get more games for Bynum, and to get more minutes for guys who were in a slump.

    Why do I say this? Well, look at some of the calls that were criticized about PJ (Fisher taking some really bad shots that where way out of the offense, though playing longer than normal, Bryant sitting out longer than usual in the 4th quarter, etc). Those things did not happen at home.

    The benefit from all of this was to get some players back in track, and no one benefited the most from playing time than Bynum. Had the Lakers played like we knew they should, they would have won in 5. But they had 2 additional games to try to get Bynum on track. Look at game 7. There’s the answer as to whether my theory gave results.

    Sounds dumb, and, yeah the team played more then they should and could have used the rest. But come on. They would only have had one day off anyway. Now Bynum has more minutes under his belt, ready for a series that will require more of him to make things easier for the rest.

  91. DTM,
    The real problem with your theory is injuries. Phil has been coaching long enough to see what injuries do – see Utah and Houston this year – and wouldn’t put our playoffs at risk just so a youngster would get more time. If he really wanted Andrew to get more playing time, he could have modified his rotations somewhat and had him playing more often and in shorter stretches to get up his wind and not have him foul out in the 1st half.

  92. One piece of evidence of how important Bynum may prove to be in this series is to look at the game the Lakers played without him.
    The Lakers shot under 30% for the game, and Kobe had one of his Kobe B games- scoring 29 points, but on 31 attempts. (Of course it might have just been one of those cold games for the team as well.)

    When Bynum and Odom are playing well- then the matchup advantages are true. But if they’re not playing well- Bynums on the bench and Odom is invisible on the court, the Nuggets can use their (improved) team defense to stop Gasol’s and Kobe’s production-whether or not they have a good 1-1 defensive matchup on them.

    Defense wise- the Nuggets came in right behind the Lakers this year in overall effectiveness. 8th best in the league. Definitely not the nuggets of old.

  93. The Lakers fought hard to secure homecourt throughout the western conference playoffs. And it paid off. The FANS help bring this series to an end. And if need be– we’ll do it again.

    The finals wont quite be “The FINALS” without a true redemption in the Garden. Hopefully it wont take another 20 years for THEM to make it back.

    Game 7′s, where the FANS deliver the KNOCK OUT. BODY BLOW, BODY BLOW, STICK AND MOVE, UPPER CUT.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TWDCN-un2vE

  94. Some more thoughts (sorry- natural born cynic- so my thoughts tend to shade negative)…

    I think people are exxagerating how effective Gasol has been against the Nuggets.

    He struggled offensively against them this year somewhat- All four games he scored below his season average (5 points off on average- but on the same number of attempts), and shot a good 7-8% off his average as well.

    The place he owned them though was rebounding. He averaged 3 more per game- and had 11 (!) offensive rebounds in the last game.

    I think K-mart can be more effective than people here are saying. He’s probably studying Chuck Hayes tape right now. And Nowitzki’s game is a really bad comparison with Pau’s. Pau has nowhere near the outside game of Dirk- and that’s where K-mart struggled. He’s going to be physical with Pau and try to keep him off-balance. We’ll see if we get game 7 Pau or game six Pau in response.

  95. I am curious how anyone could pick the Lakers in 4 or 5 after seeing them go 2-2 against a Rockets team without their two best players. Thus far, the Lakers have been an inconsistent team which means they win when their role players play well. Are you really expecting Bynum, Odom and Ariza to play well every game in this series? Lakers in seven would be more realistic.

  96. 88. Craig, I think the difference is the Nuggets aren’t as mentally tough or disciplined to come back from deficits as we are. Obviously, this Hou series is not good indication of our mental toughness, but I still think this holds true. Plus, our penchant for giving up leads isn’t exactly frontrunning material.

  97. Hollinger has picked Denver in 6, but identified Bynum as the “X-Factor” and since I have said that a few times, I obviously agree. Bynum is still learning on D, but he is so big and his arms are so long that he tightens the interior D just by his physical presence. Add in the fact that he gets a few easy scores at the rim, which opens up penetration lanes, and the Lakers are a different team when he is in there and contributing.

    So, I think that is the main thing to watch in this series–particularly on the road.

  98. “I am curious how anyone could pick the Lakers in 4 or 5″

    I agree–I think it will be in Denver in 6 or Lakers in 7.

    But the short answer to your question is “matchups” and “style.”

  99. 96. Jim, I am not predicting an easy series, but neither are those who are taking the Lakers in 4-5. They can be close, hard-fought games, but we close out well and win a short series.
    I would not underestimate the Rockets, they would give the Nugs a run for their money, even without Yao. They deserve credit. But the other thing is we match up better against the Nugs, whose defenders can’t compare to the likes of Artest/Battier and Hayes in stopping our two best players. Plus we’ve had answers for Carmelo and Nene.
    As for our role players (if you can call Bynum and Odom that), we don’t need them all to play well at the same time, which seems far fetched. But we need some to play well and others not to hurt us too much to win each game. So yes, it is possible that we win a short series. But I’m not counting on it.

  100. This is the playoffs. All series should at least go to 5 or 6 games. If anything less then that the team that lost should of not been there in the first place. The Cav’s have not been challange at all. Remember that last year the Celtics went to three seven games series. People where saying that the were washed up that age was getting to them. People talk a lot when the favorite team does not win or sweet the weaker opponent..once again its playoff basketball. Yes the lakers struggle agaist the rockets its simply the rockets did not want to loose, is no that the lakers did have heart. teams have bad games it’s all part of the experience. I see this series go to 6 game or maybe 7 but the lakers will win the series. No doubt the will because of one player #24 a.k.a Black Mamba.

  101. I disagree that the Lakers are inconsistent. I think they play inconsistently (which is incredibly frustrating), but they are consistent in that when they know they have to win, they always play like they did yesterday. They may not be doing that every single game, but throughout this season the Lakers have been consistent in that whenever they have a must-win game, they play like they are the best team in the league. Which, of course, they are. :)

  102. @96 – Houston without Yao Ming was 4-0 against the Lakers before this Playoff series. Without Yao they can go small, push the offense and run and with Yao their more of a halfcourt team. Let’s not forget we’ve already shown we can beat Denver with Billups when we won 116-102 I believe in LA. Obviously the regular season is a different beast but Denver doesn’t have two of the best defenders in their starting lineup as Houston did.

  103. denver is dangerous because of their 3 point shooting. both chauncey and jr smith have been hitting big big BIG shots for the nuggets. if the lakers leave either of those a tiny bit of space, they will take those shots, and as we’ve seen in these playoffs, make a good percentage of them. also, from what we’ve seen in the dallas series, the nuggets are a fourth quarter team. they bring up the intensity by starting the 4th quarter with the birdman, anthony carter, who is a decent passer, and jr smith. they run and gun, and that mile high altitude just tires the opponent out. then midway through the fourth is jr smith time. he likes to make 2 or 3 consecutive threes to put the nail in the coffin. and if the game is still close, carmelo will just start driving to the basket to get some free throws.

    what the lakers need to do is get a good sized lead in the first 3 quarters. if not, denver will own the 4th qtr. the nuggets have never been down in a game by many points. the two losses were very close. so if the lakers can demoralize them in the first 3 quarters, maybe the nuggets will just collapse.

  104. Mimsy, I disagree that you disagree that the Lakers are inconsistent. You admit they play inconsistent, but don’t think they are. That doesn’t really wash. And I have to contend they just played their only actual MUST WIN game of the year. That makes them 1-0. If I count the core group’s experience going back to last year in must wins, it’s 1-1.

    And the overconfidence against Denver in general is cute. The Rockets just laid out the official scouting report for all future opponents and it’s “Lakers in 5″? Interesting…

  105. The key to Denver’s success this season is undoubtedly Chauncey Billups. And at last glance, he has a 2004 championship ring that should belong to us.

    We need to make Billups work on the defensive end to fatigue him and slow down his offense late in games. He has had pretty good success against us for some reason but has tended to fade when pressured into becoming a defensive stopper, which he is not.

    He’s bullied Farmar, played Fish straight up, and we don’t know what Shannon can do against him yet. But all three need to push Billups to the brink on every single play. Make him work at coming off of screens and I guarantee you that he’ll start cheating on defense which will really open it up for our bigs.

  106. 102 – Agreed. It’s funny how the Laker fan community chastises the team for unjustified overconfidence, but then falls into the exact same trap itself. This is NOT the same Denver team that we swept in the regular season.

    I think we’re going to have real problems with Nene. In the last series, we had a hard time dealing effectively with the Scola/Hayes/Landry combo; Nene has been playing great ball and is more talented/athletic than any of those guys (but maybe not as crafty as Scola). He will give us serious problems if we underestimate him.

    Personally, I would love to see Phil challenge Kobe to shut down Carmelo defensively. That would put Ariza on JR Smith or whoever’s playing the 2, which I think is a far better matchup. I think giving Kobe a focused defensive mission would also, in effect, place a greater focus on running the offense through Gasol, which should work to our advantage if K-Mart is guarding him.

    That said, I think this is going to be a tough but entertaining series. I hope it doesn’t go the distance, but I think the Lakers would have significant psychological advantage if it comes to another Game 7 at Staples.

  107. Sorry for the double post, but my first post was in agreement with Clutch’s post (now 104).

  108. I’m surprised that many of you seem to have forgotten the way our team played in the last two rounds and are now feeling so overconfident that are dismissing this Nuggets squad as foddder.

    First, remember how inconsitent our defense and play has been. We may have had the luxury with Utah to be lax there and still win, but we all saw how that attitude came to bite us int he butt with the Rockets for game 2 at home. Those of you who say “this team learned its lesson” seem to forget that after losing game 2, we got humiliated in game4, and then once again in game 6. Don’t expect the same with the Nuggets. This is the type of team that will step in our throats if given the chance.

    Second, if Bynum has shown anything this playoff series, is that he is a non-factor. Until he puts at least 3 back-to-back good performances, we must assume he is a non-factor. I just don’t understand how some of you can expect himt to be “a beast” when he has been, for the most part, a puppy during the entire playoffs.

    Finally, to assume that the Nuggets are not mentally disciplined but we are is just plain ridiculous. I’m sorry guys, but mental discipline = 48 minutes of effort. Except for two certain players named Kobe and Gasol, I have not seen a Laker player with consistat “mental” discipline on the court. If yo uthink I’m wrong, then I would love for you to explain what channel I should have been watching as the games I saw televised on TNT and ABC did not show our guys being “mentally tough” during every single game.

    Sorry to get so pissy here, but I hate it when us fans argue points without taking into account what has transpired int he last 12 games.

  109. Pao got all those offensive rebounds because Chris Andersen tried to get blocked shots. If Anderson gets blocks and in the Lakers’ heads, LA’s shooting percentage sucks and the Nuggets win (like what happened in March when Andersen had 8 blocks). If he doesn’t, the Pao gets 40,000 offensive rebounds and Denver loses. Andersen may have to show some restraint on shot blocking to position himself for defensive rebounds.

  110. 104. Did the Lakers not win game 5? I believe that makes them 2-1 in must-wins.

  111. “I would not underestimate the Rockets, they would give the Nugs a run for their money, even without Yao.”

    The Lakers lose 2 games to the Yao-less Rockets and suddenly the Rockets without Yao and McGrady are now a good team that could challenge Denver? I guess the Lakers are so great that any team that beats them must also be great too.

    Be realistic, the Lakers beat Utah, the second worst team in the playoffs. Then they had trouble with a Houston team missing its two best players. Saying that Houston won two games without Yao because of matchups is rationalization at best. The Lakers’ strength all year has been their front court so I don’t see how losing your best front court player suddenly makes you match up better against the Lakers.

    Denver is the first good team the Lakers will have faced in the playoffs and judging by all the lofty expectations expressed here, some people may be bound for some disappointment.

  112. clutch, you’re right that I could probably have phrased that better… what I meant with “must-win” was not necessarily elimination games, but… Ahem. Let me try again.

    What I meant to say was that this team always steps up and plays their best when they believe they absolutely have to and that is a form of consistency. I’m thinking of that 6-0 road trip right after Bynum went out injured… the one where Kobe scored 61 points in MSG, then came down with had stomach flu so Lamar took over, where Pau suddenly found his cojones against the Celtics again, and where we became the only team this season to beat Cleveland at home.

    We’ll never see any of these guys play their heart out against an opponent they don’t see as a legitimate threat to the franchise’s greatness. That’s why they lost to the Hawks once that road trip was over. Consistently, they don’t play hard against opponents that aren’t worth the effort.

    That in mind, I think the biggest danger for the next series is if the Lakers start to assume that it’ll be easy compared to the Rockets. Because if our team remains consistent on this front, that means that if they are big favorites tomorrow night, they’ll not put in nearly the effort and heart they did yesterday, Denver takes Game 1, and we’re looking at another 7-game series…

    No, let’s assume Billups will eat our pointguards alive, Melo have a 40+ game, and Nene will intimidate Bynum into countless turnovers and foul trouble. Let’s convince ourselves and the Lakers that this is a dangerous opponent that they have to play hard.

    I’m not sure if I’m making any more sense on my second attempt to explain my thoughts… I’m trying to say that one thing that has been consistent from the Lakers this year is that they play better when they face better teams, when they are not the immediate favorite.

    Yikes, now I’m rambling. I’ll shut up now.

  113. “Did the Lakers not win game 5? I believe that makes them 2-1 in must-wins.”

    Game 5 in a 7 games series tied at 2-2 is not a must win. If the Lakers were down 3-1 then it would have been must win.

  114. @Magster

    The strange thing (to me at least) is that in that last game Gasol got 11 offensive rebounds, but only had 9 points on 19 attempts. Usually when a big gets an offensive rebound it is an easy bucket or foul shots.
    The nuggets must have been defending him pretty well (just not boxing him out.)

    This is why I think Kurt’s original point about Gasol is wrong. He struggled offensively against the Nuggets this year (relatively)- I’m not sure how four below average peformances (except when it comes to rebounding = “Should Denver play the Lakers I fully expect Pau Gasol to make life miserable for the Nuggets. There is no one who matches up very well with him. Chris Andersen is probably the best matchup, but I do not think he can cover Gasol very long without Pau getting him in foul trouble.”

    I think maybe people are just assuming without looking at the actual evidence to the contrary.

  115. @111

    Utah was not the second-worst team in the playoffs–not even close.

    Both Denver and the Lakers are facing the best teams they have faced–as are Orlando and Cleveland. Again, Laker fans are optimistic because of matchups and style.

  116. Joe A. To be clear, that is a Nuggets blogger and a good one who thinks that Gasol is a matchup problem for them. I think less so but Gasol will get his, but here is the think he mentions that will be a bigger key in my preview (later today): Fouls. The Nuggets and the Nuggets front line fouls a lot. The Lakers hit their free throws. If Martin, Nene or Birdman get in foul trouble the fallbacks for Denver are a big step down, particularly on defense. If the Lakers get the ball inside and attack the rim on the dribble, they will get free throws and mismatches out of it.

  117. Also, anyone who thinks Utah is the second worst team in the playoffs needs to watch more Eastern conference ball.

  118. 1. Denver fouls a lot(5th in league in ft/fga ratio); so, the Lakers will need post good numbers at the stripe to take advantage of this weakness.

    2. Both LA and Denver force turnovers(ranked 6th and 7th, respectively); so, the Lakers must take care of the ball on the one hand and capitalize on turnovers on the other.

    3. Defensively, both teams are pretty good(ranked 6th and 8th, respectively, in opp efG%); however, both teams are below-average in defensive rebounding percentage(LA is 18th/Denver is 23rd). LA is superior in the offensive rebounding% category(ranked 3rd), while Denver is middling(ranked 15th).

    So, if LA can dominate the glass, then Denver’s good defense can be negated with offensive rebounding. At the same time, they can take away 2nd shot opportunities(watch out for Billups and JR Smith shooting 3s after an offensive board) and make things troublesome for Denver.

    Ultimately, games will be won in the paint.

  119. First, I really really like Denver. I like the energy they’ve played with throughout the year and especially during the playoffs. But let’s be honest, they’ve played the Hilton Armstongs, Sean Marks, Ericka Dampiers, and James Singletons of the world for the past 3 weeks. Game 3 of this series will determine who the real Denver team is.

    Second, I really think the X-factor of this series is Odom. After watching this series, I’ve realized that since last year’s playoffs to the present, the Lakers go as Lamar Odom goes. His rebounding will be critical in this series.

    Third, while Billups presents an upgrade at the PG position, AI’s ability to put the Lakers’ big in foul trouble is something that they don’t have to worry about in this playoff series. Aaron Brooks and Deron Williams caused a little more havoc than I expected for our bigs.

    It’ll be interesting to see if Kobe can get under JR Smith’s skin like he normally does. JR’s been pretty composed these playoffs and I think Billups has a lot to with it. But I still think he can be baited into going “Ron Artest” at certain parts of the game.

    Bynum’s play is icing on the cake; however, I’m not going to rely on it. While he’s young and has a huge room for improvement, I still think he’s too inconsistent at this point. Any contribution we get from him is a bonus.

    Another point that I haven’t seen addressed is the emergence of Shannon Brown since the last LA/Den game of the season. While he played considerable minutes then, I think he’s improved a lot since then. At this point, I honestly trust a Shannon/Sasha backcourt over a Anthony Carter/JR backcourt, especially defensively. I definitely think the 2nd unit can either win this series for the Lakers easily or make this another 2nd game series.

  120. Kurt- yeah- sorry, wasn’t trying to call you out or anything.
    My point was just that Gasol really didn’t have a single great game against the Nuggets this year. And that goes for the fouls thing as well- what you say is true in theory- but it didn’t happen that way in any of the regular season games. Gasol still got his touches- he just didn’t finish at his usual rate.

  121. 108 Manny, I didn’t mean to say the Nuggets were ‘weak’ mentally or that we are ‘strong.’ I do however feel that it is in the character of our players to deliver when it counts, moreso than the Nuggets. It is more ridiculous for you to say ‘look at the last 12 games’ than it is for me to say ‘look at the trajectory of these careers.’ We’ve been there. We’ve been tested. People can point fingers and say look at how we lost to Boston or look at how the Rox gave us trouble. But we got to the finals didn’t we? We won this series didn’t we? The Nuggets have not been tested. I think in their first season with Billups they don’t just flip a switch and completely change their fundamental character.

    111 “The Lakers lose 2 games to the Yao-less Rockets and suddenly the Rockets without Yao and McGrady are now a good team that could challenge Denver?”
    Is it somehow dumb to say answer “yes” to this question? What better proof of a good team do you need? It’s not like we handed them the games, although we helped, they beat us. They earned it. You say they won not because of matchups, and I don’t debate that. I think we saw how good of a team Hou is. They play solid on both ends of the floor and have tough guys who know how to execute.

    I also disagree with you that Utah was the second worst team in the playoffs. Their weaknesses were just exposed more because the matchup with us. I think Utah could’ve beaten Atlanta, Miami, Philadelphia, Chicago, Detroit, Dallas, New Orleans, and maybe even San Antonio or Boston who were shorthanded. I know this may be controversial, but that’s beside the point. The point is we played two good teams and beat them in the end. That has to count for something. We aren’t the ones who need to prove ourselves. It is more of a stretch for you to say that we must beat the Nuggets to prove ourselves because they’re the first good team we’ve faced than it is to say the Nuggets must beat us to prove themselves because we’re the first good team they’ve faced.

    112 Mimsy, I agree with you about how we step up in big games. Hopefully, we won’t get into a hole and have to do that.

  122. Kurt,
    “The Lakers hit their free throws.”
    Not always Kurt. Lamar, Pau, Ariza have a large number of 1-of-2 trips. While this may not be a Laker weakness, it certainly isn’t much of a strength.

  123. I’m really excited for this series.

    It will be very interesting to see if our regular season success on Carmelo transfers over to this series.

    A lot of people have jumped on this Nuggets bandwagon (and with good reason), but I think a lot of people are forgetting that the Lakers had great success with a blazing hot Nuggets team to end the season.

    Are the Nuggets playing better right now? Maybe, they definitely are a bit healthier w/ K-Mart back in the lineup, I just think we all take for granted what a focused, healthy, motivated Lakers team can do. They haven’t really instilled confidence in us lately, but they have a lot of bulletin board material to start this series, and Kobe can smell that championship opportunity inching closer.

    I think the Lakers can win a lot of the match-ups (Billups will likely have an advantage over any Lakers, and Melo should as well although I think we can neutralize him a bit), and we can definitely slow down one of Denvers strong points, their bench. We have players who can stay with J.R. Smith, and while Denver has other solid options on the bench, if he doesn’t get going they do tend to struggle as a whole.

  124. 120 Craig, it seems like Pau’s midrange shooting overall has diminished in these playoffs. I have no idea why. Oh how I miss that sugary sweet jumper.

  125. I think Detroit, Miami, Chicago, and Philly are all worse than Utah. Maybe even Atlanta.

  126. Don W.
    I wonder if Pau isn’t concentrating on being ‘tougher’ and his midrange jumper is kind of the anti-tough move (read Dirk Nowitzki). It is kind of like Sasha concentrating on his running jumper – this is destroying his FG% and he should just stop and use his spot up jumper.

  127. Also someone mentioned that Dirk has a much better post game than Pau – simply not true.

    Overall Dirk is a better player. I’m not going to dispute that, but that’s because he’s an awesome shooter and can create a jumpshot opportunity or drive it to the hole from the top of the key. That being said Pau has a much better low post game and that’s where he likes to operate – through polished footwork and touches around the basket. He’s better at playing the traditional role of a PF.

  128. Ryan & Manny, +1. Although, I think any time you put Kobe on a big 3 for the whole game, it’s not going to go well for us. Black mamba or not, weight is weight.

    Mismy, you weren’t rambling and I got what you meant. I just wanted to make the point that those reg season games weren’t must wins and our team’s supposed intuition of when they absolutely have to play is garbage. I’m sure it’s been said already, but if Yao’s there I don’t think we win that series playing like that. Good thing it doesn’t matter now.

    Lastly, The W’s are right. Our FT shooting continues to suck and Pau has lost confidence in his J again. Though, not as bad as last playoffs yet.

  129. Regular season, Utah was .500 against the East this year, and 6-10 against the Eastern playoff teams. They beat Detroit and Philly twice, but lost to Miami and and Chicago twice.
    They were 12-13 against the Western playoff teams.
    30 of their 48 wins came against non-playoff teams.
    38% of their 48 wins came from playoff teams.

    They were slightly worse than Atlanta who was 12-13 against East playoff teams, but 8-8 against the West PLayoff teams, and had 43% of their 47 wins against playoff teams. (All those bottom feaders really pad the Western team’s records).

    This doesn’t take any injuries or anything like that into account of course.

  130. Anonymous @ 124 is me, I was in a hurry.

  131. @Julia-
    I think the point is that K-Mart will be a more effective defender down low where he can use his strength against Pau- than he was against Dirk who shoots fade-aways and takes people off the dribble. Again- Chuck HAyes set the blueprint. K-Mart just has to follow.
    That’s why the original Dirk-related point was a little off IMO. The Nuggets not being able to guard Dirk does not translate directly into the Nuggets not being able to guard Gasol. There offensive games are very different.

  132. Oh man- I would love an edit function for silly grammatical errors…

  133. If we’re comparing defense on Dirk and Pau, I’m thinking we are going to need to compare their supporting casts as well… when Pau and Andrew play well together stopping one of them only means the other can have his way with you in the paint.

  134. Trevor needs to guard Carmelo, he needs to use this series to prepare himself for the ultimate challenge, guarding LeBron. period.
    if you recall our last game against the Cav’s, Trevor did a pretty good job on Lebron.
    we want him to start to get into the mind set that he needs to be a huge contributor down these last 2 series.
    also, now we see why PJ was playing Pau so many minutes during the season, he knew, (and this is part of his brilliance) that to succeed, we were going to need Pau to be in the best shape of his life, and be able to sustain long minutes.
    experience is worth something eh?

  135. Did Houston leave a blueprint for the best scheme to defeat the Lakers? Yes.

    Does that mean the remaining playoff teams have the necessary personnel to implement that scheme? No.

    Yes, the Lakers could lose to any of the remaining teams because we’re in the WCF and potentially the Finals thereafter. But the only match up that scares me is Orlando.

  136. Gotta agree with Snoopy2006 about Boston, I wish we could’ve beat them in the Finals!

    As unstoppable as Kobe is, I hope the rest of the team will end up “Doin’ Work” against Denver!

  137. Disclaimer: I don’t like the Lakers.

    I think the Nugs are playing far better ball right now and are very confident in their ability to beat the Lakers. Their defense is the best it’s been this decade. Billups has added veteran poise and leadership and Birdman and JR Smith are anchoring a solid bench and providing off-the-charts athleticism. Finally, the Nugs are going to be well rested going into tommorrow’ clash.

    That said, I don’t think the Nugs have the mental fortitude to beat the Lakers on the big stage. I think Melo and Billups will have good games, but I believe the Nugs front court will wilt in the national spotlight and against the Lakers’ bigs.

    Regrettably, Lakers in 6.

    Now, how the Cavs match up with the Lakers is a completely different thing!

  138. In terms of the starting lineups, I think both teams have major matchup advantages. Jones doesn’t have the size or savvy to slow Kobe down, and Gasol is too long for Martin, while Carmelo (on paper) should dominate whoever the Lakers put on him. Billups obviously has the edge at PG but his physical style at least suits Fisher more than the explosiveness of Williams and Brooks.

    Apart from Bynum (who is already acknowledged as possibly the biggest X-factor in the entire playoffs) this series could swing on the performances of the respective benches. Both teams have second units that like to feed off the home crowd and push the tempo. JR Smith in particular can break games wide open when he gets hot. If the Laker reserves don’t bring it consistently at both ends, those 8-10 minutes in the middle of each half could result in big deficits. Farmar and Co need to take care of the ball and avoid jacking up contested jumpers.

    I still think the Lakers will win in 6 because I don’t expect Melo and Billups to dominate their matchups to the same extent as Kobe and Gasol (well maybe Melo but he certainly hasn’t done it in the past). However, the battle of the benches could offset that and hand the advantage to Denver.

  139. @Mimsy- that is of course if Bynum can stay on the court. Nene is the kind of player that can get fouls on Bynum if he’s aggressive. The
    first game they played this season Bynum went 0-1 and had 5 personal fouls.

    The interesting thing here about trying to draw anything from the regular season matchups is that the first game the teams played, Denver was still in the A.I. era. The second game- Chauncey had been with the Nuggets for less than 10 games- third game the Lakers were without Bynum of course, and the fourth game K-mart was out injured.

    Sorry- I was wrong earlier too- Gasol had 27 points in that last game! My memory failed me- he did shoot below his average- but this is the game he had 11 O-Reb and shot 11 free throws.
    It’s hard to say how much the absence of K-mart defending him made a difference (Petro started)- but the Laker’s play in that last game (with both Gasol and Bynum having big games) is probably a good indication of what the outcome will be if the Laker’s bigs both play well.

    Okay- I’m done clogging up the boards for today…

  140. I like the Lakers in 5 and the Magic in 6.

    The Nuggets don’t have Scola and Hayes. I like Nene, he is a tough defender, but if Drew comes to play we should eat them up inside and without Battier/Artest Kobe will be able to get to the FT line all day.

    The X-factor in my opinion is Ariza. When he can hit the 3, he stretches the floor and we really have the spacing that we need to be an elite offense.

  141. The thing that amazes me most in this comment thread — the number of people who like Orlando. I would love to hear more on how you think that can happen, because I don’t see it.

  142. I think one of the keys will be FTs. If Kobe can get to the line he will get people in foul trouble and be efficient. I think he will get more FTs this series than he did last series.

    It will be interesting to see how Karl decides to guard Kobe. Will he go with single coverage like he did with Nowitzki? Dirk is a special talent but I don’t think he can single handedly beat a team like Kobe is capable of. Plus Kobe has help in Gasol. If Kobe can get to the rim (and I see no reason he shouldn’t be able to since Battier and Artest won’t be there) he will draw attention from the Denver bigs leaving Bynum, Gasol and Odom free for O rebounds.

  143. I think Orlando has a decent advantage on the inside. Both Lewis and Howard will be tough for Cleveland to stop. They have a pretty solid PG that will make DeLonte West work, also solid 3 point shooting all around. I mean you have Lewis pulling Varajo out of the paint and it becomes a lot easier for Dwight Howard against a slow Ilgauskas.

    I like Cleveland in 6, but I think Orlando will give them trouble, and maybe even push it to 7. Both the WCF and ECF should be excellent series’, though.

  144. Tough news. Brian Grant was only a Laker for a short while, but he was a hard nosed baller (reminds me of the Udonis Haslem precursor) and a seemingly good person.

    http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/otl/news/story?id=4174877

    What is it about the purple and gold that attracts psycho stalkers?

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=4175737

  145. Wow…a lot of Denver fans here now.

    Rightfully so, after their unprecedented, surprising run in the playoffs so far. What these playoff newbies (yes, remember, this is the first time your team has gotten past the 1st round in nearly 20 years), don’t realize is that each playoff series is unique to itself. Injuries, matchups, styles, and many other factors can change the complexion of the series. Most Laker fans here don’t take Denver team lightly. It’s just that the Lakers are a superior team overall. If both teams played their best, the Lakers would win 4 out of 7 times. Well, this is a seven game series with the Lakers having the home court advantage. Remember, Denver’s playoff record isn’t that much better than the Lakers, so far. If the refs do their job, Denver could have gone to 6 or 7 games in that series. However, even without that, the Lakers will play better in this series because Denver is a better team than the Rockets. This Laker team thrives in silencing the critics, and the critics have come out in droves after the debacle that was the HOU series. What the people don’t realize is that HOU team DID play very well. Their defense didn’t suffer much without Yao, in face, the transition defense may have been better. They did struggle with offense without Yao, but when HOU was able to find offense (in games 4 and 6), they were very tough to beat.

    With Denver, the Lakers will play more focused just because Denver is a formidable foe, especially now that they’ve seen how they killed both NO and DAL. This is actually what the Lakers need right now, a worthy foe. This Lakers will blow a game or two in the series. Denver might win one out right due to their talent. But there’s no way they’ll win 4 in 7 games. Although this series could go 7 games, I think if DEN fall 0-2, the series could be over in 5 for sure. If they split, they could still lose in 6…and for sure lose in 7.

    I have a feeling that LA will come out like gangbuster in game 1 and win easily. How DEN respond in game 2 will be a indicator how the series will turn out. Either way, the games in DEN will be close, and LA will have to fight to come out on top.

    My final statement is this. DEN is a good team, no question about it. They will give LA a lot more difficulty than they have in the past. However, the Lakers can beat DEN even without Bynum dominating if LO is healthy. If LO’s back is an issue AND Bynum is ineffective, then DEN could well win the series. But I’m hoping that LO is alright and Bynum will be effective enough to bother Nene and average 12 pt 7 reb which should be enough to beat DEN.

  146. “Regular season, Utah was .500 against the East this year, and 6-10 against the Eastern playoff teams.”

    So saying that Utah was the second worst team in the playoffs wasn’t that far of a stretch was it?

  147. 141

    Orlando does have Howard in the lane to deter LeBron from getting inside at will. They held him 43% shooting over 3 games this season – and that’s including a game where he went off for 43 – by making him take more jumpers than usual. Those guys can really play defense, make no mistake about it. With all the talk about their 3s I think a lot of people aren’t acknowledging that fact. Also, I don’t think Cleveland has anyone who can slow Howard down the way Perkins did.

    Despite all that, I think Cleveland will prevail in 6 or 7. I like Turkoglu, but I don’t trust him or Alston to make the right decisions consistently in close games, while the Cavs counter with one of the top 3 closers in the game. (Nelson’s absence will be keenly felt here in my opinion.) However, I expect it to be a competitive series and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Magic won.

  148. 2nd the “how does the stupid Orlando offense upset Cleveland?” question. I still can’t believe Boston didn’t show up at the Garden for game 7.

    If Orlando doesn’t shoot red hot from 3 for the whole series or SVG doesn’t pull out his old Miami playbook, there’s no way they pull this off.

  149. I like Orlando, but I don’t think they can stop LeBron. In fact, I don’t think anyone can stop Lebron. I think there are a couple of teams in the league who can beat him, and Lakers are one of them. I hope Orlando is not, since I would rather face the Cavs next round.

    Joe A, good point about Bynum. He tends to become frustrated and flustered if he gets a couple of fouls early, and he never gets his focus back after that. Let’s hope that changes soon…

  150. Orlando has some match-up advantages that I like: Lewis versus Side-Show Bob, a front-court big enough to counter Orlando’s size, a guy to make LBJ work on D (Turkoglu) and some big wings (Pietrus and Lee) to give a size-advangtage over the puny Cavs guards.

    On top of all that, I look at the Cavs 2-7 record against the Lakers, Magic and Celts and I see a team that has proven nothing. They have played the worst teams possible in each round so far and until they beat a good team, I’m not sold.

  151. Clutch- I’m gonna look for it, but the other day Dwyer linked something showing that the Magic have won games all year when they have shot poorly from 3. They have one of the top 2 defenses in the league, that’s what they hang their hat on. If they defend, they will have a chance.

  152. “We were a little stubborn,” Lakers forward Trevor Ariza said. “We thought we could beat teams off our talent alone.”

    For shame, Trevor. At least he’s honest.

    Looks like ESPN keeps going with this Kobe-Lebron debate. The sad thing is that because each side is so fanatic, you start to lose appreciation for the other player in your attempts to argue for your guy. Just enjoy them for 2 transcendent talents.

    Perhaps an accurate comparison – and far salient than anything Hollinger’s numbers could capture – is that Kobe is similar to Kakashi (top Konoha jounin, and a straight baller), whereas Lebron represents Sasuke – all that potential to surpass Kakashi (and arguably there already), but much younger and likely will be better if he can keep growing. Kobe kind of taught Lebron at Team USA this summer too, so that fits nicely.

    Anyone who gets that reference gets a golden star next to their name.

  153. To me the series will hinge on Lebron-Dwight. If the refs call ticky tack fouls, Lebron’s drives will get Dwight in foul trouble early and limit his aggressiveness. If the refs let them play physical, Dwight is the best inside deterrent to Lebron’s drives.

  154. Until last night placed Orlando’s and Denver’s D together in the slightly overrated aisle. The Magic impressed me yesterday, though.

    To be honest, I completely buy the Cavs are unproven theory, but I’m also sickened by the Magic’s offense game to game. The best center in basketball as a decoy and clean-up rebounder while everyone else shoots Js around him. Plus the complexity of repeated isolations for Hedo. Ugh. I can’t stand it.

    Link it, if you’ve got it, kwame.

  155. Gold star here please. :)

    I’ll give you a gold star back then Snoopy. It’s rare to see a Naruto reference that isn’t cheesy. Kobe as Lebron’s mentor is a bit far-fetched… but not enough to make it cheesy. Maybe apply it to Kareem and Bynum instead? Or is it blasphemy so suggest anyone can ever surpass Kareem?

  156. Clutch- I can’t find the link, I think it was in one of the “behind the box score” posts ( I know I saw it, ha ). Sifting through the game logs of their series with Boston and Philly, they have won games in this years playoffs where they have shot 9-27, 6-26, 6-23, 6-20 and 8-23. I think the key for them is too hold the Cavs under 90 points.

  157. Just if it interests ya’:
    Joe A’s completely arbitrary ‘worst of the worst playoff team rankings based completely on regular season peformance and nothing else’ (Worst to First):

    1. Det: 12 W, 29%, 30% (E-32%, W-25%)
    2. Phi: 15 W, 37%, 37%(E-36%, W-38%)
    3. Chi: 16 W, 37%, 39% (E-33% W-44%)
    4. Mia: 18 W, 44%, 42% (E-48% W-25%)
    5. Utah:18 W, 44%, 38% (E-38% W-48%)
    6. NO: 19 W, 46%, 39% (E-50% W-41%)
    7. Atl: 20 W, 49%, 43%(E-48% W-50%)

    Stats are: Total wins against playoff teams, W% against playoff teams, Percentage of total wins that came against playoff teams, and winning % against East’ playoff teams and West playoff teams respectively.)

    The Western playoff teams had a 65% Winning percentage overall. The East 61%, so the West W% is weighted a little more than the East- hence why Utah is ranked lower than Miami, and Atl lower than NOs.

    Wins against non-playoff teams (especially in the West) count for almost nothing.

    Can’t argue with numbers! ;-)

  158. Lebron is more like Kirabi(host of the 8 tails) due to his speed, power, and love of hip-hop.

    Kobe isn’t as aloof as Kakashi. He reminds me more of a young Neji, excellent and revered by all but miserable because of he isn’t the top dog.

  159. You win, chibi.

    I haven’t gotten into the manga so can’t say about the Kirabi. Personality wise Kobe’s nothing like Kakashi (more like Sasuke actually) but the relationship fits. Plus Lebron was gifted at birth with a physical strength/talent (Sharingan) that most average people just don’t have in their genes.

    lol I tend to get very bored between games. Any word on how Lamar’s back is doing?

  160. @146

    Yes, that is a stretch, Jim Smith. Utah wasn’t even the 2nd worst team in the West side of the playoffs; both Dallas and the Hornets were worse, Dallas just got lucky against the Manu-less and Timmy-knee-pained Spurs. The Jazz were MUCH better than their seed and their exit.

    Kurt – I just think a lot of people (me included!) WANT the Magic to beat the Cavs, and some stats lay favor toward that path (ORL having a strong record against them in the past few seasons, the 29 pt loss the Cavs suffered at their hands, etc). ORL will be their toughest challenge yet (which isn’t saying much against what they have seen so far in these playoffs), but they will likely prevail.

  161. Aw… if my comment wasn’t caught waiting for moderation I would have won the star :(

  162. … Actually slide Dallas in at #7 before Atlanta:
    Dal: 19 W, 45%, 38%, (E-56%, W-38%)

    And Houston was pretty good using this (arbitrary) metric- much better than all the teams I have listed so far:

    Hou:24 W, 56%, 45%, (E-63%, W-52%)

  163. lol well good thing I’ve got TWO whole golden stars. Female anime fans rock.

    There was a fun post on NBA.com years ago comparing NBA players to the X-Men, (I think Kobe was paired with Wolverine) it reminds me a little of this.

  164. SA: 20 W, 49%, 37%, (E-50%, W-48%)

    (If anyone cares I will do all the playoff teams- but I’m not sure if anyone cares…)

  165. I’m actually not a fan of that particular anime, I like the samurai-era ones a lot more. Or the bizarre ones, like DeathNote. Just surreal enough to make perfect sense… :)

    Back to basketball, I think we can expect the Nuggets to come out full blast tomorrow, trying to take initiative and hang on to it, on the general principle that whoever wins game one gains momentum. I also think we can expect the Lakers to start slow, gradually pick up speed, and regardless of the outcome, it will be a close game in the end. And if we win or not will depend on if we can keep Bynum on the floor towards the end, so Pau has room to work.

  166. http://www.cbssports.com/columns/story/11760946

    “It’s an embarrassing promotional vehicle for Kobe Bryant, an effort to portray one of the most wonderfully talented but disgustingly selfish players in league history as a good old dude, ya’ll. ”

    “Lee clearly made a simple accounting transaction: portray Bryant as blemish-free St. Kobe — not the Shaq backstabber and egomaniac that he truly is — and in return Lee would get valuable access to the Los Angeles Lakers star. The movie, to me, looks like a straight up quid pro Ko. “

  167. What I love about this sad story from CBSSports is how the author uses his hatred for Kobe as a way of personally attacking Spike Lee.

    Geez. I don’t think there has ever been such a polirizing figure in sports. I mean, this is not a documentary on Kobe Bryant’s life or legacy – it’s just a film about Kobe doing work for a single game. Good God. Why is it so hard to let Kobe get some spotlight?

  168. I see a potential issue with offensive rebounding. The Lakers, especially the guards, have been lazy in boxing out. Denver has some jumpers that attack the offensive boards. If we can’t clean that up we’ll be giving them too many second chances, just like Houston and Utah.

  169. Manny,
    Because he is a narcissistic sociopath whose very existence is an insult to anyone who actually loves or cares about basketball. I think that’s what people say, anyway.

    Sad, when you think about it.

  170. “Yes, that is a stretch, Jim Smith. Utah wasn’t even the 2nd worst team in the West side of the playoffs; both Dallas and the Hornets were worse, Dallas just got lucky against the Manu-less and Timmy-knee-pained Spurs. The Jazz were MUCH better than their seed and their exit.”

    So you are saying that a record of 6-10 against Eastern Conference playoff teams is indicative of a good team? I guess since they were able beat the Lakers once in the playoffs they must be a good team.

    As for Dallas getting lucky, you could also point out that the Lakers have been lucky this year: no Manu, no Stat, no Yao, no McGrady.

  171. Kobe is not only talented, but extremely driven. To people who are not as driven – practically all of us – this is very intimidating. Sort of like a hatred of Bill Gates.

    Kobe also made the singular error of ignoring the press for his first few years in the league. This ‘oversight’ is the single most unforgivable act any sports figure can make – see Wilt Chamberlain or Barry Bonds. Since we all are imperfect and make mistakes, this slight of the talking heads and especially sports writers results in a full out frontal attack at the first sign of weakness or error. This is more than just the normal sport of tearing down a figure you have spent time building up and it also feeds on itself. The intended is now a pariah and will forever remain so.

    While my little story seems quite extreme, it is not far from the mark for many writers. Since many people still get their information through these people, it spreads the damage throughout the society.

    On top of this Kobe 1) initially was compared to the god MJ and 2) functions in his own world and doesn’t seem to care about these writers – a totally unforgivable attitude for any sports figure.

    Nothing Kobe ever does will be right for the rather fractured people.

  172. Apologies. I forgot to add the “cynical sarcasm”-tags to my previous post

  173. jim smith,
    If you notice, the Lakers have done worse against the Rockets when Yao was out, over the years. The Yaoless Rockets run a style of bball that attacks the Laker weaknesses quite well and the Lakers have to adjust to this situation on-the-fly.

  174. Mimsy – Unfortunately, yes, it is blasphemy to suggest anyone could surpass Kareem.

    Manny – Amen. I don’t know if Spike could have done a less controversial documentary (it’d be like filming a corporate employee typing away on his computer). But if it was an hour long movie of Kobe sitting still and typing, people would find something wrong with it.

  175. 146. Jim, Utah was battling injury to key players all season.

  176. All this talk of the upcoming series and people are missing the biggest story out there:

    Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers are scheduled to be at the Pepsi Center in Denver next Monday night.

    Problem is, so are John Cena and a bunch of wrestlers.

    World Wrestling Entertainment says it is booked at the arena for an episode of Monday Night Raw, the same night the Nuggets are slated to host the Lakers in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals.

    This could be fun. How does Odom match up with John Cena?

  177. Holy crap I missed this quote:

    “Even though the Denver Nuggets had a strong team this year and were projected to make the playoffs, obviously Nuggets and Pepsi Center owner Stan Kroenke did not have enough faith in his own team to hold the May 25th date for a potential playoff game,” WWE chairman Vince McMahon said in a statement.

    The WWE’s already throwing down!

  178. “Jim, Utah was battling injury to key players all season.”

    Exactly, that’s why they were one of the worst teams in the playoffs this year. Utah had a good team last year, this year not so good.

  179. 176. Depends on which Odom shows up, you never know.

    For those that haven’t seen the link:

    http://cnbc.com/id/30812864

  180. This is the Western Conf Finals and it’s so hard to sell tickets even at face value. What gives? Is the economy, or do the fans not know which LAKER team they are paying to see.

  181. Man, kwame. Now I really want to know what you read :) Anyway, I’m sure they won games shooting the 3 poorly, even in their first 2 series, but I really think with their current style of play, they’ll have to be relatively hot to beat the Cavs. That and take something away from LBJ. He can’t be both a scorer and a passer every night.

  182. @169

    “So you are saying that a record of 6-10 against Eastern Conference playoff teams is indicative of a good team? I guess since they were able beat the Lakers once in the playoffs they must be a good team.”

    This has nothing to do with the Lakers. It has EVERYTHING to do with the fact that D-Will missed 13 games (& wasn’t himself at all because of that in ankle in at least 10 more), Boozer missed 22 games, AK-47 & Okur missed games…even Korver & Harping missed time! I have all the respect in the world for Jerry Sloan and know that this team’s outcome would have been different if healthy. It’s not an excuse, it’s just an explanation. To classify them as being that bad is just nonsense.

  183. 173, So how were these Yao-less Rockets able match up with the Lakers defensively? Also, what Lakers’ defensive weakness was exploited by the Yao-less Rockets?

  184. forget about that CBS story – imagine if kobe had the lakers posing before each game while he took pictures of them. or worse, had the camera filming him knocking down half court shots and other crazy stuff. he’d be ANNIHILATED!! good thing he doesn’t do any of that stuff.

  185. I can’t believe I’m getting dragged into this, but…

    183 – For one, Chuck Hayes is much quicker and more mobile than Yao. As such, his PnR defense is more aggressive, and he’s far better at trapping on the PnR than Yao is. Yao would often hang back and let the likes of Farmar score over him. Secondly, although the length of Yao is a major deterrent, Hayes’s quickness makes up for that some by moving his feet quickly and drawing charges. Drawing charges negates drives as well as simple length does. Finally, Hayes is an excellent post defender. Yao’s length bothers most players (I can’t remember if it bothers Pau that much or not), but Hayes’ low base and strength really give Pau problems, it took Pau a couple games to figure out how to properly attack Hayes.

  186. LA has felt the pressure now and are ready to explode en route to a championship. You can see in game 7 that they were the hungrier team and they were hitting on all cylinders (of a V-10)! Yes were an up and down team but when it’s crunch time we bite down hard!

    We match up way better with Denver for the fact that we only faulter against teams that are smaller at the point. Are bigs are going to dominate Kmart and Nene and our rotation is going to confuse the hell out of Karl. The matchup differences with Melo, Jr, Chauncey, and company will easily be fixed with the depth of our bench.

    Potential matchups:
    Nene – Bynum
    Kmart – Gasol
    Melo – Ariza
    Jones – Kobe
    Billups – Fish

    *Kobe will switch up in sticky situations (ex. Melo or Billups get hot) and our bigs can switch up with Bynum getting his rest and Gasol getting on Nene and Odom taking Kmart or the same with Melo and our second team with Odom and Bynum out there. JR will be shut out with Walton, Odom, etc. Our depth is simply to talented and stacked for Denver. Sorry Denver fans but LA in 5 games.

    Oh yeah.. And keep hating on #24 because that gives him premium fuel to run all up over you guys on. I predict Kobe hitting a 40 point game in atleast two of the games. Watch out for an explosive refreshed Shannon Brown too he is hungry after not getting minutes and Chauncey looks like a good matchup once (if) Fish is benched.

    Cavs in 7

    LA over Cavs in Finals in 7

  187. 182, I was talking about the Utah team that actually played in the playoffs, not the Utah team with everyone at 100%.

  188. No! We can’t forget about the CBS story! This is ammunition for legendary Zen-Master mindgames. Not to mention hilarious. Absolutely hilarious!

  189. jim smith – based on win/loss record vs eastern playoff teams, utah’s 38% winning percentage against the east is 4th worst in the playoffs, behind detroit (32%), chicago, (33%), and philly (36%). based on win/loss record vs the east in general, utah’s 50% is tied w/ detroit for 3rd worst in the playoffs, behind chicago (46%) and philly (48%).

    so, utah’s the 2nd worst playoff team because…?

  190. 185, Wow you are tooting the horn of someone with stats of 1.3, 3.5 .6. I guess Yao will be out of a starting job pretty soon. So let’s say Pau or Drew gets the ball in the post. How does someone who is 6’6″ stop a seven footer in the post? I think you are overestimating Hayes’ defense just a little.

  191. 190, okay maybe third worst behind Detroit and Philly. Does that make you feel better?

  192. jim smith – just looking for an actual explanation of why you rate the jazz so low, that’s all. none of the stats you’ve shared justify your opinion, so curious as to why you threw them out there.

    i don’t think the jazz of this season were a great team by any stretch of the imagination. i just don’t think they’re as horrible as you think they are. fundamentally they’re well coached and have a great floor leader in deron williams; i think they just match up really poorly w/ the lakers (as the past few seasons have shown). i’d take them over any of the bottom four in the east in a 7 game series. however, that’s just an opinion, and i’m not gonna pretend like it’s a fact.

    bottom line is, in this forum, if you throw a statement out there, be prepared to either (1) present it as just your personal feeling, or (2) back it up w/ some sort of evidence.

  193. hey come on, we are not playing Jazz next round. lets focus on the Nuggets!

  194. Me being easily amused, I think we need to see predictions for how John Cena matches up against our bigs in the post. And how long we think he can go before he’s ejected for throwing Gasol into the scorer’s table.

  195. 192, my evidence was their 6-10 record against Eastern Conference playoff teams. It is also nice of you to state that you FEEL that Utah would come out on top against the bottom four teams from the East since the facts (0-2 against the Bulls and the Heat), would suggest otherwise.

  196. jim smith – again, that 6-10 record against eastern conference playoff teams would lead you to conclude that they’re the 4th worst team in the playoffs, not 2nd worst. your evidence does not equal your conclusion.

    getting tired of this. if you don’t get it, i’ll live.

  197. Voice of Nuggets Nation May 18, 2009 at 5:13 pm

    After reading oh lets see…about the first 50 of these comments, I realized that Lakers fans have absolutely no respect whatsoever for the Nuggets. It is as if they feel the Denver Nuggets are the exact same team as last year, and based on the sweep in last years playoffs, you automatically think you will dominate. It is hilarious when I read that Dallas and New Orleans were not really “playoff” teams, and Denver has had such an easy road to the Western Conference Finals. Obviously, I am a Nuggets fan, but c’mon Lakers fans, take a piece of humble pie. Yes you have Kobe, whom at one point I hated more then anything, but now I love the guy and more then anything, respect him. But to see posts already examining the Cavs-Lakers Match-up is a flat out slap in the face.
    I have read various comments on this board voicing Laker nation displeasure regarding TNT’s assessment of the series or other analysts breakdown of the match-up. I know you guys feel disrespected because Charles Barkley didn’t pick LA but seriously, have you guys been watching TV or seen the front page of ESPN’s NBA page? There is this Kobe vs. Lebron game going on all over, whether it be the Nike puppet commercials (Hilarious) or anything else presuming that they will meet in the finals.
    Basically, what I am trying to say is…the Lakers are not being disrespected, if anything, the Lakers and Kobe especially are being given immense amounts of respect.
    So here ya go LA, you have your “free” pass to the finals, all you have to do is knock off the Nuggets, which a year ago, pre-Chauncy, you did. Should be easy then, right?
    As a Nuggets fan, I know my team and its strengths, and the biggest difference from last year is most definitely the mentality and focus. Do not expect a rattled Nuggets team this time around, with a man who has more big time playoff experience in his pinky then most do in their entire body at the helms in Chauncey, there will be no panic button in the Nuggets game plan this year.
    Obviously, I am picking my Nuggies, it all seems right this year. Melo has found his game and no longer settles for stupid jump shots but instead makes it an issue to take it to the hoop. Nene has just completed his first full season after battling cancer and its all up for him as he has come into a role as a beast who can run the floor like a gazelle. K-Mart was no defensive stalwart against Dirk, but he did stop Dirk when it mattered and when it was clutch time and he dismantled D-West, which is an accomplishment despite all the “oh he was injured!” ney-sayers. D-Jones is on the floor for one reason: Defense. It could not matter less if Kobe fouls him out because all Jones is meant to do is pester Kobe as much as possible and any offensive production is gravy. JR Smith is starting to play like a man, and not like an AND ONE streetball player trying to impress some cutie in the crowd. Anthony Carter is a ball mover and gets things going on the passing end of things, plus his D is under-appreciated. The Birdman is a castoff looking for something to prove.
    Come to think of it, all the Nuggets are essentially “castoffs” in some way, and they are all dying at the chance to prove themselves because they are the ones who feel disrespected.
    So here we go Lakers, lets do this, but don’t expect us to roll over and die the minute you get an advantage, this team is ready and they feel disrespected. To think Phil Jackson would show clips of TNT’s predictions to his team is laughable, who the hell cares what Barkley and Kenny Smith think? If Jackson has to show the clips of some has been and a never was to get his team fired up then somethings is just not right. The Lakers have my respect no doubt, but get ready for a battle. Peace.

  198. Barry, there is not much difference between the fourth worst and the second worst. For you to pretend that Utah was somehow a great team for an eight seed is funny. Face it,both the Cavs and the Lakers have had an easy time thus far. That’s why getting the number 1 seed is so important.

  199. Mimsy, I do not believe that throwing another player into the scorers table is an offense that warrants an ejection…I seem to recall it happening…

    Now ‘onto’ the scorers table, that might get John C ejected.

  200. Cayucos Surfer May 18, 2009 at 5:17 pm

    I think more people here are afraid of Orlando, mainly because of the regular season games. But what you must keep in mind is that they had Jameer Nelson for both of those games. I think that the talent drop-off between him and Alston is relatively significant.

    Personally, i like our chances more against the magic, especially considering we would have home court advantage. But i still think we could beat the Cavs as well. Although i am getting a little ahead of myself. We do have this team from Denver we have to beat before we even get there.

  201. I clearly need to get a new post up. This thread has gone haywire.

  202. John Cena may be athletic, but he has not hops. Of course, Scola had no hops either and look how well he did on this last series.

    Anyway, the match ups that worry me the most are:

    Brown vs Ray Misterio Jr. Both acrobatic. Both athletic. Could go either way.

    Undertaker vs Bynum: If the Bynum “beast” shows up, this is good for us. If the Bynum “puppy” of late shows up, we’re in trouble.

    Mikael Thompson vs Jerry Lawler: Both are equally horrible as color-commentators. Again, a toss up.

    Melena vs Sasha: Both have girly looks – but I think Melena can take Sasha down.

  203. jim smith,
    You seem to simply want a fight on the blog. Most of us here are not bagging on the Nuggets and we are trying to be reasonable about the Lakers advantages and shortcomings. Constantly banging on the Laker opponents doesn’t give any credit to two very good organizations and coaches. Yes, they had problems, but I would posit that the organizations, coaches, and teams of the Jazz and Rockets is noticeably better than the current Pistons and Hawks and probably better than the Hornets and Mavs.

    There are enough talking heads around just trying to advance their own prejudices — please don’t just add to their number. We like arguments and discussions here, but not blunt instruments.

  204. If there is one thing i learned from this post is that if the readership gives an overwhelming response, Kurt will feel forced to write a new thread.

    I think I’ll be making the best of this knowledge now ;)

    Off topic (should be obvious now as to why i stray), but just got back from reading Hollinger’s Kobe vs. LeBron.

    I have to admit I agree with most of it, except that I keep having trouble with him using PER (and with its emphasis on rebounding, as well as it completely ignoring players’ roles in particular teams and systems), and that despite his love of stats, he seems to disregard the value of 81 (and the Dallas outburst) because they came against inferior competition with inferior teammates.

    Sure he could have just ‘normalized it’ and added it to the stats and averaged it, but if one were to evaluate Kobe, you just can’t dismiss his ridiculous scoring capabilities which were ‘allowed’ to be put in full display.

  205. Jim – Do you watch these games at all? Hayes is in this league for 1 reason and 1 reason only – his defense. Of course he’s going to be better at it than Yao. Are you denying that he’s quicker than Yao? Are you denying how much trouble his lower stance gave Pau when they first faced off? Any fan who watched this series remembers how much difficulty Pau had backing Hayes down, and taking difficult shots outside his comfort zone. It wasn’t until he went to spin finesse moves or facing up that he started to get the better of Pau. It feels like you’re not even watching these games when you make claims like “how does a 6’6″ guy stop Pau in the post?” He doesn’t stop him, but he sure made life hell for Pau in the post early on.

    Nuggets Nation – Not all Lakers fans. I have a ton of respect for any Billups led team (it’s called the 04 Finals) and think this series will be a real battle.

  206. Denver’s about to get a rude awakening. To say they’re championship material ’cause they beat up on two injured teams is a joke. Denver doesn’t have a real center on their entire roster (no, Elson doesn’t count). LA should continue with their game 7 strategy against Houston and run every play through Pau and Bynum. All Denver can (and will) do is foul and then complain about it.

  207. No one has the right to tell someone else what to think, but wow…I’m with Nuggets Nation, actually. Some of these comments dismissing the Nuggets are kind of extreme.

    I hope everyone’s right. A 5 game series would be nice. I guess since the 2004 Finals I’ve had the ultimate respect for Billups, and I really like the defense they’re playing and the way their bench gives them a lift. Sometimes simple match-ups aren’t enough, sometimes a cohesive unit can overcome matchup problems. Just hope I’m wrong this time around.

    wiseolgoat did a great job with the last series – what’s your call, goat?

  208. If I didn’t say this already, I apologize, I should have: The biggest favor we can do the Nuggets is to underestimate them and treat this as a cakewalk.

    Billups is scary. You can bring up his age, his declining speed, whatever negative thing about him you want, I will maintain until the day he retires that he is a scary guy to have on the opposing team. Carmelo Anthony may be a headcase (wait, we just got done with Artest, never mind), but he’s a very productive scorer, to say the least. The rest of the team is not exactly a bunch of incompetent wusses either.

    Don’t get me wrong, I still think that in the end the Lakers will win. But I don’t for a moment think it is going to be easy, or that we won’t have to fight for it. If nothing else, I expect the Nuggets bench to out-perform ours, and that will eventually lead to problems.

  209. Snoopy,

    Pau’s stats

    Games 1-3 16ppg 11r
    Games 4-7 20ppg 13r

    It doesn’t appear that Hayes was anymore effective at stopping Pau than Yao was. If anything, he was actually worse.

  210. Stats don’t capture the fact that many of those points came when Scola (or, less frequently) Cook were guarding him.

    Also, re-read my last sentence. I didn’t say Hayes stopped him, I said he made things more difficult. Pau had to adjust his game to get those points, more than he had to with Yao. Pau’s offense was inefficient until he realized spin/finesse moves and facing Hayes up were the best ways to attack him.

    And if you still think Yao is better than Hayes at PnR defense, then I’m not sure what else to say.

  211. 210, Well if you think the Rockets are better without Yao and that a 6’6″ is a better post defender than a seven footer, then most people would have nothing else to say.

  212. Don’t put words in other people’s mouths. Yes, I think if the Rockets cut Yao and started Chuck Hayes they would have made it to Game 7 of the Western Semifinals. In fact, if they cut Artest and start Wafer they might make it through to the Finals next year.

    I never once said they were better without Yao, I only responded to the question you posed in 183, at someone who, clearly wiser than me, decided not to bang their head against a wall.

  213. Snoopy2006,
    He was responding to a comment of mine. Occasionally we get one of these people, but they usually get tired and leave after about a week.

  214. I will be very surprised if this series does not go 6 or 7.

  215. Craig I am actually at work and it is amusing to see Lakers’ fans attempting to be “objective.” And, yes I will be gone as soon as the playoffs are over.

  216. So, Jim, what is your prediction for the WCF and why?

  217. Less than 23 hours to go…

    We NEED this game considering the talk about anime and such today, Joe A., yeah do the Playoff teams I am interested.

  218. Jim, Utah was missing key players in the regular season that they had in the playoffs. Hence the worse regular season record. I don’t know how much more I can spell this out for you.

  219. OK, how would the Lakers have matched up against the terrorists in the “Diehard” movies? Assuming everyone is 100% healthy.

  220. It’s one thing to come on here when the Lakers aren’t playing great to complain about the team, or to read other Laker fans do the ripping. It’s ok for us to be reactionary – but, it totally gets to me that EVERYBODY in the media has left the Lakers for dead right now.

    We have no heart. We are disgraceful. We don’t deserve to win it all because we don’t try all the time and we are too up and down. Too arrogant and entitled.

    Everything I have read says the Lakers can’t win it this year because we lack toughness or we don’t play the right kind of defense. Like every team in NBA history that won it all fit a particular mold. All champs are not carbon copies of each other.

  221. Since so many people were requesting the full rundown (thanks ST! ;-)), here you go:
    08/09 Season playoff teams ranked in order of winning % against other playoff teams:
    (worst to first)

    1. Det: 12 W, 29%, 30% (E-32%, W-25%)?
    2. Phi: 15 W, 37%, 37%(E-36%, W-38%)?
    3. Chi: 16 W, 37%, 39% (E-33% W-44%)?
    4. Mia: 18 W, 44%, 42% (E-48% W-25%)?
    5. Utah:18 W, 44%, 38% (E-38% W-48%)?
    6. Dal: 19 W, 45%, 38%, (E-56%, W-38%)
    7. NO: 19 W, 46%, 39% (E-50%, W-41%)?
    8.SA: 20 W, 49%, 37%, (E-50%, W-48%)
    9. Atl: 20 W, 49%, 43%(E-48%, W-50%)
    10. Por: 21 W, 50%, 39% (E-56% W-46%)
    11. Den: 22 W, 51%, 41% (E-50% W-52%)
    12. Hou:24 W, 56%, 45% (E-63% W-52%)
    13. Orl: 26 W, 63%, 44% (E-64% W-63%)
    14. Bos: 29 W, 69%, 47% (E-77% W-56%)
    15. Cle: 30 W, 70%, 45% (E-67% W-75%)
    16. LA: 29 W, 71%, 45% (E-63%, W-76%)

    Stats = Total wins, W%, Percent of total wins that came against playoff teams- and records against Eastern and Western playoff teams.

  222. That’s what happens if you don’t ‘dominate’ teams. They think they find chinks in your armor and start believing that there is hope.

    And when you believe, things happen.

    As for Denver vs. LA… if there’s one thing I know about this team is that I don’t know which team’s going to show up. Especially on the first game.

    But I’m fairly confident that we’ll take Game 2 if we lose in Game 1.

  223. Sorry, just to be clear- the first % listed= winning percentage against playoff teams only.

    …and those question marks don’t mean anything- they snuck into my formatting somehow.

    Houston looks pretty good based on this metric- 2nd best team in the West! And Atlanta is better than many gave them credit for- at least in the regular season.

  224. “Don’t underestimate the upside of bipolarity”

    If Hyde decides to show up before Jekyll, we’ll have this series. If it’s Bruce that shows up as opposed to the Hulk, oh well.

  225. I never knew that carmelo and kobe were close friends

  226. … and you know how some people talk about how Phoenix would be a 4 or 5 seed if they were in the East?

    Pho: 38% 37% (E-38% W-38%)

    They really only played significantly better than Detroit against Playoff teams. They’d be right there with Chi/Phi fighting for the 6-7 spot probably.

    Sorry none of this has anything to do with the original post.

  227. It’s possible the Nuggets will win, but more likely that the Lakers will mop the floor with them IMHO. The experts are making the same mistake now as they did picking the Lakers in the finals last year. The Lakers have historically given the Nuggets problems, they’ve been the better team all year, and they have home court. Struggling in the 2nd round doesn’t negate all that.

  228. Joe A., thanks, Yeah, Houston was right up there with the big boys this year and we got them in the 2nd round of the Playoffs, no wonder it went 7 games. It is commenters like all of you on this thread that really makes this blog great, for me at least.
    “mop the floor with them”, I just love it.

  229. upon re-reading my own posts, sure there was a flare of being a biased laker fan but what else could a laker fan say? so as long as we give our due to all angles (which is consuming but fair) i think the proper raising of our team or the tempered bashing of our team can be warranted as good advice.

    i am not dismissing the nuggets. i just feel good about our lakers waking up and living up to our true beastly potential. now, denver is also peaking and nugget nation is true on a lot of points in his voice out. but i think we peak in this series and let’s just see which wins the day.

    the lakers shouldn’t be dismissed based on round 2 as well. that is laker nation’s response to the grudge going on right now even with some analysts. to say lakers don’t deserve it is plain not objective and unprofessional. i don’t care if you want to sound as some hot item or some nuisance. give the lakers some slack or don’t talk about them at all.

    looking forward to your new post kurt. GO LAKERS!