Records: Lakers 6-1 Suns 8-1
Offensive points per 100 possessions: Lakers 108.1, Suns 115.4
Defensive points per 100 possessions: Lakers 102.5 Suns 108.4
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest, Lamar Odom, Andrew Bynum
Suns: Steve Nash, Jason Richardson, Grant Hill, Amare Stoudemire, Channing Frye
Short preview today as Bill Bridges did a great job breaking down the Suns.
The Lakers Coming in: I’m not sure I’ve ever spent as much time discussing a man’s let as I have Pau Gasol’s hamstring. I
Two great things out there worth reading. First, Dexter Fishmore over at Silver Screen and Roll did the smart thing — he emailed sports injury blogging guru Will Carroll. I’m not going to post his comments verbatim here, go check out the post, but basically he said calm down. He said to think of it as two injuries, the first one then the one he got trying to come back to fast. That is often why hamstrings linger.
Also, Kevin Ding has a great story saying Gasol is smart to take his time, and Gasol is about as smart a player as there is in the league.
Bottom line for me: If it’s Thanksgiving when he gets back, then we’ll give thanks. A healthy Gasol in April, May and June matters. November does not (especially when you are 6-1).
Keys to game: The Lakers need to get this win, because tomorrow night they have to travel to Denver for the second game of a back-to-back. That is a schedule-makers loss — play then travel over night to altitude and play a very good Denver team (with fans hyped for playoff “revenge”). The Lakers need the front end of this back-to-back.
The good news is they get the Suns on the second game of a back-to-back. (All these back-to-backs is anther way of saying don’t think what happens in these games can be extrapolated to May.)
As for what the Lakers need to do, I’d like to see Artest on Richardson and Kobe on Hill (allowing him to roam a little more. From there I’ll let Burgundy take over (from the comments):
The game plan is essentially this:
1) Use most of the 24 second clock each possession.
2) Go Inside.
3) Go inside (I mean, they were doing this with Kwame Freaking Brown [in 2006] and it was working because the Suns’ middle is so soft).
4) Don’t shoot three pointers unless it is late in the shot clock and you are wide open (we’ll see how Farmar and Sasha handle this directive).
5) Sag way the heck off Nash on D and keep him out of the lane. [Bill Bridges added a great point this morning, Nash prefers to drive to his left, if you force him right he is still good but it starts to throw what the Suns do off.]
6) Stay home on the shooters.
7) When Nash runs the pick and roll with Amare, double Amare off the pick and deny, even if it means Nash can get to the cup for two reasons:
A) An athletic big (like Lamar) can recover in time and still challenge the shot, because Nash is ground-bound and thinks “shoot” last.
B) Even if Nash gets a layup, the important thing is Amare DOESN’T. The less involved Amare is on offense, the less involved he is on D, and ultimately, the less involved he is in the game.
Where you can watch: 7:30 start on TNT nationally (well, more like 7:45 because you know the early game will run over) and Fox Sports here in LA, or listen to Spero on 710 AM, ESPN.