Expect Game Two of the Western Conference Finals between the Denver Nuggets and the Los Angeles Lakers to be just like their last. Both teams played evenly with the Lakers star Kobe Bryant one upping Denver Nugget star Carmelo Anthony.
Both teams are looking to gain momentum as after this game, the Lakers travel to the Mile High City where they will play the Nuggets on Saturday. Nuggets have also not lost at home during the post-season.
Denver is going to keep Gasol limited. Nene did a good job on Gasol when he was on him by using his strength to his advantage, pushing Gasol around without picking up any fouls. The whole front court for the Nuggets is going to have to keep Gasol in check. Gasol who averages 18.1 PPG and 2.2 APG went for 13 points and three assists in game one.
Make Gasol is a passer, which he is still very good at. Nene must use his quickness and agility to make Gasol foul him. Pau had four fouls in Game One.
They also did a good job on Bynum who's knee has still been bothering him. He was limited to 16 minutes of game play and collected five personal fouls.
The Nugget back court and Kenyon Martin have to make Kobe's life tough. He went 13-28, en route to 40 points. That is too close to shooting 50 percent. Dahantay Jones, being under-sized, has to play smart and not pick up silly fouls and let Kobe post him up. If anything, Carmelo should guard him down the stretch as he did a very good job and can overpower Kobe.
"That's a big kid," Kobe said. "You fight, you stick to your defensive principles and try to deny the guy the ball and force him off his spots and try to make it tough for him."
Nene is a key for the Nuggets if the want to win. He exploded for 14 first half points but finished the game with what he ended the first half with. 14 points. Nene needs to stay out of foul trouble and produce at the offensive end.
Giving Carmelo the ball is key. He can make offense happen. After having 20 points in the first half, Carmelo only scored 19 in the second. He needs to get more touches while on the floor with the second unit.
Jr. Smith is huge. His little production in Game One ultimately lost the Nuggets the game. He uncharacteristically did not take those off-pick three pointers that he usually takes and makes. He is probably trying to play smart, but he needs to play like he has been playing through out the post season.
The two biggest factors are rebounding and free throw shooting. The Nuggets as a team shot a horrible 65.7 percent from the stripe. The Lakers at 83.3 percent. Billups missed three free throws as he was 6-9 from the stripe. I blame Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson for two out of the three misses. (Jinxes!)
The Nuggets got out rebounded 46-37. The Nuggets in the post season 39.2 RPG. Fast break points are a key as well. They only scored seven fast break points; they usually get over 15 FBP in a game.
Lakers have to keep Carmelo down. He shot a sizzling 70 percent from the field and was 4-5 from behind the arc to make up a total of 39 points.
Fisher needs to play the same way he did in Game One: alive and fresh. After struggling in the Rockets series, Fisher went out and hit three clutch threes and added 13 points to the Laker total.
Odom was also perticulary quiet. He only had seven points and eight rebounds in 33 minutes. He needs to perform to his full extent if the Lakers want to win by more then two.
Gasol needs to be big. He should push Nene around and not always settle for the fade away jumper. He is still doing good rebounding as he grabbed 14 boards from the window in game one.
Kobe Bryant needs to be Kobe Bryant. He went off for 40 points and he must be that closer.
"They have the best closer in the sport and we didn't do enough," Karl said.
Tip off should start around 6:30 PT/ 9:30 EST on ESPN.