NBA Playoffs: #1 Lakers vs # 8 Nuggets

Jeff LittleSenior Writer IApril 17, 2008

NBA Playoffs First Round Match – Up

#1 Los Angeles Lakers Vs. #8 Denver Nuggets

The Sacramento Kings were the last hurdle for the Lakers to win the west & were no match in stopping the Lakers from earning the Top Spot in the Western Conference heading into the playoffs. The Lakers were 3 – 0 in the season series.

11/29 Los Angeles 127, Denver 99

1/21 Los Angeles 116, Denver 99

Kobe Bryant & company going up against AI & Carmelo, The Nuggets will try to play fast and outshoot the Lakers while the Lakers will play a deliberate medium speed game forcing the Nuggets to work on defense.

Starter Match Up’s 

PG Derek Fisher 6’ 1” 210 lbs. 11thYear, Avg. 11.7 Pts, 2.9 Ast., 2.1 Reb, 1 Stl 

PG Anthony Carter 6’ 2” 195 lbs. 8thYear, Avg. 7.8 Pts, 5.5 Ast., 2.9 Reb, 

Two veteran Point Guards in this match-up that are similar in size.Carter is shooting 45.8% from the floor but has had 11 points or less in the last six games. I consider this a Key Match-up due to Derek Fisher’s spotting up for timely 3-point shots after Kobe drives the lane and one of the post players have to step in front of him, leaving someone open in the process. I give the edge in this match-up to Derek Fisher who is a veteran of the NBA playoff battles and holds 3 championship rings and is shooting has a 43% FG from 2-pt range and 41% 3-Pt FG. Advantage: Lakers 

SG Kobe Bryant 6’ 6” 220 lbs.    11thYear, Avg. 28.3 Pts, 5.4 Ast, 6.3 Reb, 2 Stl.

SG Allen Iverson 6’ 0” 180 lbs.   11thYear, Avg. 26.4 Pts, 7.1 Ast, 3.0 Reb, 3 Stl.

This will be a tough match up between two Superstars from the same draft class. The favorite to win this years MVP award against a former MVP. Allen Iverson will have to work to get his points and he will but Kobe Bryant with his style of play, skills and desire to win won’t be stopped. Allen Iverson as we all know can get hot and be very difficult to slow down. He lit up the Lakers in a December game netting 49 points in the 1st 3 quarters and finishing the game with 51 points and a loss. It will be exciting to watch but Kobe has the edge & will win this match-up. Advantage: Lakers

SF Vladimir Radmanovic 6’ 10” 235 lbs. 6thYear, Avg. 8.4 Pts, 1.9 Ast, 3.3 Reb.

SF Carmelo Anthony  6’ 8” 230 lbs. 4thYear, Avg. 25.7 Pts, 3.4 Ast, 7.4 Reb, 2 Stl.

This is a match up that is in the Nuggets favor, Carmelo Anthony is a Superstar in this league and is a better player and by all accounts should win this match-up. Carmelo is a very dangerous player who has a game so versatile that if he is hitting his jumper he is almost impossible to stop. The Lakers have been starting Radmanovic at the 3 spot and he has responded well. He has been more productive starting instead of coming off the bench. He is the better shooter of the two Laker small forwards and can’t be left alone on the Arc.

The Lakers have the option of bringing in Luke Walton off the bench to solidify the second unit or starting him at the Small Forward position he is one of the teams best playmakers with excellent court vision, basketball IQ and knowledge of the game. He simply makes everyone on his team better.

This is another Key Match-up for both teams because the Lakers have gotten a lot of production from this position and if Radmanovic can get hot a game can get out of hand and the Nuggets can quickly be trailing on the scoreboard. The advantage remains in the Nuggets favor. The only thing now is with distraction that Carmelo’s brush with the law was, we’ll find out quickly if Anthony’s mind is on the task at hand or his run in with the law and a looming court date. Dealing with both during the season is a daunting task. Advantage: Nuggets 

PF Lamar Odom 6’ 11” 8thYear, Avg. 14.2 Pts, 3.5 Ast, 10.6 Reb, 1 block

PF Kenyon Martin 6’ 9” 7thYear, Avg. 12.4 Pts, 1.3 Ast,  6.5 Reb.

This match-up is one where Kenyon Martin will run the floor and seek to score on lob passes and put back dunks more than scoring in the half court offense. The advantage goes to Lamar Odom due to his production. This is a key match-up for both teams because Lamar’s production willl cause Marcus Camby to come over to help slow Lamar down which should free up Paul Gasol and cutters flashing in the painted area. This could also place Martin and Camby in foul trouble. He can fill out a stat sheet and has put up a double-double in the majority of the games since the All-Star break.  Advantage: Lakers  

C Paul Gasol 7’ 0” 250 lbs. 6thYear, Avg. 18.9 Pts, 3.2 Ast, 8.4 Reb, 2 Blocks

C Marcus Camby 6’ 11” 235 lbs. 11thYear, 9.1 Pts, 3.3 Ast, 13.1 Reb, 2 Blocks

This match-up will be one where Paul Gasol will outscore Marcus Camby who has turned into the Nuggets last line of defense and rim protector. He is still a fabulous defense player that has no problem throwing anyone’s shot into the 3rd row of the stands. Several of his blocks have come in a help situation and that is where the pendulum swings in the Lakers favor. Gasol’s offensive skills will allow him to score in the post and allow the Lakers to start their offense from the inside out, Gasol is an excellent passer out of the post as well which will make life difficult for the Nuggets. Kobe Bryant’s penetrating the lane will cause a dilemma for Marcus Camby he can attempt to stop Bryant leaving Paul Gasol to attack the rim or stay home hope for a miss and grab the rebound. Advantage: Lakers   



Contrary to popular belief the Nuggets do have some dangerous guys on their bench. SG J.R. Smith, SF Linas Kleiza, PF Edwardo Najara, PF Nene has missed the last 6 games with a grion injury and is questionable for the first round series but it is the playoffs and I think for that reason alone he will play.

Smith and Kleiza are the most dangerous guys and have to be contained. Locking down these two, rotating out on shooters, stopping the dribble penetration of the guards and slowing the starters will be key in this series. The Lakers have the deeper bench consisting of G Jordan Farmar, G Sasha Vujacic, SF Luke Walton, SF Trevor Ariza, PF Ronny Turiaf, C Andrew Bynum, SF Ira Newble. The Laker bench has been a strength for this team all year averaging 30 points per night on several occasions as well as resting the starters & have brought the team a tremendous amount of Energy, Effort and Enthusiasm. Advantage: Lakers

The Lakers have showed a lot of growth and developed, despite several injuries to key players the Lakers have come together as a unit and are playing their best ball at the right time heading into the playoffs. The Lakers will probably be without C Andrew Bynum and SF Trevor Ariza, two integral parts of their team but both should return by the end of the first round one or the start of round two. These are two explosive offenses Lakers averaging 108 points & the Nuggets 110 points per game but the Nuggets are also ranked 29th defensively. The league has surprisingly spread the games out. The first five games are played on Sunday Apr.20th, Wednesday Apr. 23th, Saturday Apr. 26th, Monday Apr. 28th & Wednesday Apr. 30th.

Advantage: Lakers, winning this series in 5 games.