Tonight is Game 1 of the Nugs/Lakers! We're obviously rooting for the Nugs. . . you can see my failed Birdman experiment last week from the game. Hey, at least I got a cool t-shirt. (thanks to bmer and kass for the ticket)
I think this will be a hard-fought series with the Lakers. I still feel like we are on the bad end of alot of matchups and the Lakers will eventually prevail. But, unlike last year, the Lakers have some glaring weaknesses that we can exploit. Let's break it down by position:
Point Guard: Huge advantage Nuggets. . . Chauncey needs to dominate Fisher and Farmer (which he should) , get some steals from them on D, and shoot well.
Shooting Guard: Huge advantage Lakers. . . .We don't have anyone to guard Kobe. If Dahntay Jones can get in his head at all and slow him down for the beginnings of quarters, that will be huge for us. I don't see it happening.
Great move by George Karl in refusing to play JR Smith on Kobe. When the 2nd unit is in, Anthony Carter will guard Kobe. This keeps Kobe out of JR's head and keeps JR's fragile confidence up. Good coaching move.
Small Forward: Advantage Nuggets. . . one of the keys to the series is how much difficulty Trevor Ariza gives Carmelo. I think Carmelo steps up and dominates him. . .but perhaps not for all 7 games.
Power Forward: Wash. . . . .Yes, I'm saying Kmart is equal with Pau Gasol. He's been amazing in these playoffs. If Kmart can keep Pau from having wide open 15 footers and really get up in his grill (thus, not helping on Kobe). Pau will be contained.
Center: To me this is the key to the series. If Andrew Bynum plays well, the Lakers will be tough. . if Nene plays well, the Nuggets will be tough. If either of them gets in foul trouble early. . that particular game will change dramatically. This is the kicker right here.
Bench: Which Birdman will show up? That is the key here. Beyond that, the Lakers are deeper than the Nugs. That is why it's important for the Nuggets to play with the lead in each game. The 2nd unit with Farmer, Odom, Walton, etc. . will give the Nuggets problems, even though the Nuggets have a better starting 5.
So, I"m picking the Lakers in 6 or 7. This has been a dramatically succesful season for the Nuggets, and an amazing season personally for the Birdman, Carmelo, Karl, JR Smith, Nene, etc. . . . no bad feelings at all for these guys. Does anyone remember when we had to play Kmart on Kobe last year?? Needless to say, we've come a long way.
I just think Kobe wills the Lakers to win this one.
If the Nuggets steal game 1 or 2 in L.A. though, Lookout!