The Lakers do not need to win today, they need to come back to Los Angeles 2-2. If they lose today but win the Monday Night RAW game, they will still be in a good spot to win the series. But if they are going to win either game, one thing needs to happen:
The Lakers need to control the paint. That is the line of scrimmage in football, the inside half of the plate in baseball — it is where games are won. Why Lakers fans are frustrated is that we had expectations of controlling the paint from the first day of camp. Bill Bridges explains.
In training camp we had visions of possibly the tallest front line in NBA history with Bynum, Gasol, and Odom.
I think Phil tried this in camp and possibly in one pre-season game. Then somehow he made the decision that he would not play the three together at all for the rest of the season! I submit that this was a huge mistake.
We are paying for this now. When Melo subbed himself in for Carter, the game changed. Ariza had to cover Kleiza and Kobe, Melo.
Had PJ had some trust (and experience) in the Bynum, Gasol, Odom front-line, the Lakers could have countered with this line plus Kobe and Ariza. The Lakers would be the ones posing mismatches instead of the other way.
Phil has been on the coaching back-foot this entire playoffs. He has been the one reacting to the other coach instead of letting the Lakers impose its will by exploiting obvious advantages.
The reality we all see (check out this breakdown from Don W.) is that Brown/Farmar are outplaying Fisher. That Bynum has some lapses but more good things than bad tend to happen when he is on the floor. Nobody is being consistent, but some of Jackson’s less trusted players are playing better. Craig W. said it well:
Phil’s philosophy is to ride things out, rather than to take situations out of the player’s hands. To do that he has to trust the player, therefore, before Phil will allow a player to get many minutes he must be able to trust that player to work things out in a reasonable amount of time.
The problem is that that ‘reasonable amount of time’ is compressed during the playoffs.
Phil is now at a decision point – according to us fans – where he has to put his imprint on the game and he has to do it with players who haven’t completely earned his trust. Can he do this? Can Phil change at this late point in his career? Should he?
There are other things we need to see. As Holinger pointed out — if Bynum is sitting (and often even when he is not) and Nene is on Gasol, running the high pick and roll with Kobe/Gasol is not as effective because Nene hedges so well on that play. A Kobe iso is more effective, spread the other guys along the baseline. That’s in the playbook, we used to do it all the time
But the Lakers need to get away from the pick and roll, away from the isolation and get shots through off the ball movement, through cutting, through good passing, Those are the ways the Lakers score efficiently on the Nuggets.
If we want someone other than Fisher to play, then someone has to hit the shots and make the plays. We call for Shannon Brown but he was 3 of 8 from the floor in game two. Jordan Farmar took one shot. Sasha is ice cold. Someone please grab control of that job and take it.
Also, the Lakers are going to have to play through the physical contact. In Denver, Lakers going to the rim are going to be pushed around and fouled, they cannot stop and look at the official hoping for a call. Finish. Control what you can control.
Really, is there a better way to preview a game than Haiku? No. Not one. Bill Bridges started it, here are his and some others from the comments
Against these Nuggets
The key is controlling the lane
Play Andrew Bynum
The most puzzling phrase:
“Kenneth what’s the frequency”
Then “And the proble”
Fish? Hooked. Machine? Broke.
Just Kobe, Pau, Trev., ShanWow
Where’s Lamar? Crickets.
Brick… brick… airball… brick…
Drive to rim, pray for bailout
Fish, swimming upstream
Airball from Sasha
Furious, I smash TV
Two machines, both dead.
That is why we lost.