NBA Playoff Predictions 2012: Why the Denver Nuggets Will Force a Game 7 vs L.A.

Soven BerySenior Analyst IMay 10, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 08:  Corey Brewer #13 gives teammate Danilo Gallinari #8 of the Denver Nuggets a five in the fourth quarter while taking on the Los Angeles Lakers in Game Five of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs on May 8, 2012 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

In Game 5 of his 2012 first-round NBA playoff series against the Denver Nuggets, Kobe Bryant exploded for 43 points.

But his team lost.

No other Laker had over 20 points. After all, there is only so many shots to go around. 

No Nugget had over 25 points that game, but three put up more than 15 and five Denver players notched up 10 or more points. 

On that night, teamwork trumped selfishness. It usually does. Cliches stem from the truth, so excuse me as I use one right now: There is no I in team.

The Nuggets played Game 5 like a well-oiled machine. The Lakers played as if Kobe was the only star on their team.  

I’m not trying to diminish what the future Hall of Famer did, but when your team doesn’t win, no one cares about your individual achievements. 

The series returns to Denver tonight at 10:30 p.m. ET, and the Nuggets should pick up where they left off.

They have crept back into the series and will be a benefactor from a 5,280-foot boon that throws many visiting opponents for a spin. 

The mile-high altitude is always a big fatigue factor and gives Denver a home-court advantage like none other. 

Another advantage Denver has is age. They are a young team anchored by a youth explosion of Ty Lawson, Kenneth Faried, Danilo Gallinari and JaVale McGee. If the Nuggets get an early lead on Los Angeles, then the aging Lakers will have a tough time coming back. 

McGee was acquired by Denver in the Nene trade-deadline deal. So far, the former Wizard has done a great job containing Andrew Bynum and keeping the explosive center in check while also putting up offensive production of his own. 

McGee is a huge presence on the court but also extremely athletic. The big man will be key if Denver will send this series back to Los Angeles. 

Gallinari is also playing big against the Lakers, as he is averaging 15.8 points per game. A win at home will come if the Nuggets can get a solid performance from Arron Afflalo and contain Los Angeles’ role players. 

Everyone knows that The Black Mamba can take over games in a heartbeat, but shutting down players like Ramon Sessions and Pau Gasol make the Lakers more human and thus beatable. 

The Nuggets are a deeper, younger team riding an incredible momentum high. 

The Lakers are experienced and have a roster full of rings and All-Stars.

Who wins on Thursday and what does the future hold? 

I’m no fortune teller, but the Denver Nuggets will win tonight to send the series back to Los Angeles. 

The home crowd in Denver is pumped, and will cheer on their team en route to an early lead. The first quarter is all Denver, and they hold on in the second to go into halftime with a visible lead. 

In the start of the second half, Kobe Bryant suddenly brings the Lakers back to life—but the collection of Nuggets players shadow him every step of the way and finally pull away with a four-point lead, late in the fourth. 

The Mile High City erupts into joyous celebration as Kenneth Faried and company force a Game 7 after finishing with a two-point victory.