Los Angeles Lakers Playoff Preview: Game One vs Denver Nuggets

Andrew KneelandSenior Writer IApril 17, 2008

If you are looking for a bandwagon to hop on this NBA post-season, the one in Los Angeles looks the most appealing.

Not only do the Lakers have one of the best players in the league in Kobe Bryant, but they have an absolutely packed team to go with him.

Kobe Bryant is in the best place he has ever been in his career. He has the best team he has ever had, has the "Big Dog" title all to himself, and is a legitimate championship contender.

Only four teams stand in the path of the team led by coach Phil Jackson. This week: the Denver Nuggets.

Denver has a formidable back court led by Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony. Iverson averages 26.4 points/game and Anthony averages 25.7. That's a very impressive number, to say the least.

The Lakers will attempt to combat this by mixing some Odom and Fisher with some Bryant. Lamar Odom has been great this year. He is averaging a double-double, and has started every game he has played.

Bryant should shut down either Iverson or Anthony, depending on the defensive scheme of Jackson. With 7'0'' Pau Gasol dominating the boards on both sides of the court, it will come down to only one or two players the Nuggets will have to fall back on.

Anthony Carter, the starting point guard of the Denver Nuggets, will need to turn in an impressive performance if he wants his team to upset these mighty Lakers. In addition to Carter, whoever Bryant isn't guarding, Iverson or Anthony, will need to have totally phenomenal numbers.

If Los Angeles can continue to pound the ball low like they've done all season, they will have a source of points that Denver simply can't match. Denver has no one capable of guarding Gasol. 

The Nuggets also tend to turn the ball over, so if the Lakers can keep possession and keep pounding the ball in low, they should have no trouble with Denver. 

There is another largely overlooked factor that should play a big role in this series. Kobe Bryant has a minor monkey on his back. He hasn't proven to himself, his fans, or the media that he can win without Shaquille O'Neal.

I would look for him to have a huge game, and a huge series, as he attempts to prove to the world that he is who they say he is.

I'm not going to say that an upset cannot happen. It did last year. 

I predict this series won't be a sweep. While Denver can beat itself at times, they can have a great game every once in a while.

Los Angeles in six.