First a couple programming notes — tomorrow at 1 p.m. come by the site for a live chat with myself and Jeremy from Roundball Mining Company as we talk game one and if Nene and Kenyon Martin could win the WWE tag team belt. If you want to get a preview of that chat, check out the ESPN.com NBA podcast today as Jeremy and I go at it (and I think he bests me).
Second, if you haven’t seen this yet, Kurt Rambis had a job interview:
Lakers assistant coach Kurt Rambis has interviewed with the Philadelphia 76ers for their head-coaching vacancy.
Rambis, 51, met with 76ers President Ed Stefanski at a hotel in Los Angeles on Monday. The Lakers gave the 76ers permission to speak with Rambis.
“I met with Ed and I thought the meeting went well,” Rambis said. “Beyond that, I have no further comment. Right now, I’m focusing on helping the Lakers defeat the Nuggets.”
What should Rambis be focusing on right now? Here’s some suggestions from Bill Bridges.
If I were the Laker coaches, I’d be stressing:
1. Take care of the ball (run the offense). Denver has thrived off turn-over fuelled runs.
2. Pump fake, Pau. Pump fake, Lamar. The Denver bigs are shotblock happy and ripe to be put into foul trouble.
3. If the Lakers get 2 consecutive stops, look for Chauncey on a pull-up 3. Guaranteed.
4. Each and every Denver big has one move, which is a counter move. They take one dribble in one direction and pivot the other way. Its like they got the complete Pete Newell big man camp DVD, except the disc got stuck on the “Counter spin-move” section and in repeat play mode. Play for the counter and take position: charge.
I like Sasha on JR. If Houston was Farmar’s redemption, will Denver be Sasha’s?
And a few final thoughts from Reed:
I think our length on defense is going to make life more difficult for Denver than they think. If Bynum can stay on the court (by both being productive and avoiding foul trouble), we should be able to prevent Denver from really racking up points in the paint, which is the foundation of Denver’s explosive offense. The Nuggets led the league in dunks and were second in points in the paint this year. This led to them placing 7th in eFG%. Add in strong FT shooting and they were 3rd in TS%. However, despite having several high profile perimeter shooters, they are a mediocre to poor outside shooting team. They were 7th worst in the league at 2-point perimeter shots (we were 3rd thanks to strong midrange shooters like Kobe, Pau, etc.), and middle of the pack in 3 point shooting.
It will be difficult to stop Nene, Melo, Martin, etc. from getting good looks inside, but we are well positioned relative to most teams to do so given our length inside. Utah is another team that relies heavily on interior scoring and we were successful the last two years at pushing them out and bothering their close shots with our size. If we can tempt Martin into that horrific midrange shot, keep Nene from dunking, and allow Melo to shoot long 2s (even though he’s admittedly good from there), then I think we can hold down their offense and outscore them 4 out of 7 nights. I’d love to see us force the ball out of the hands of Billups, Melo, and Nene early in the clock so that Martin and Jones are often forced to make a play with the clock running down (like we forced the ball to Brewer and Harping in the Utah series). There will be nights when their shooters are hot and we lose, but the odds and stats say that won’t happen consistently.
I expect Gasol to demolish Martin, Nene to abuse Bynum, and the series to come down to which teams gets more two players impact the game more from each team: Kobe and Odom or Billups and Birdman (whose impact on the game can be monstrous at times and invisible at others — like Lamar…).
Let’s Get It On! And we’re also talking NBA Draft Lottery in this thread.