Nuggets-Lakers: Keys Going Into Tonights Pivotal Matchup

Bhavik DarjiCorrespondent IMay 27, 2009

DENVER - MAY 25:  (R-L) Carmelo Anthony #15 of the Denver Nuggets reacts in the third quarter as Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers walks by in Game Four of the Western Conference Finals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at Pepsi Center on May 25, 2009 in Denver, Colorado. 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 Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

This series has been the most exciting conference finals match-up out of the two being played. Three out of the four games went down to the wire, and two of those games were decided by poor plays on the other teams behalf.

The Lakers and Nuggets will be battling it out in California today as both teams look to take a 3-2 series advantage over the other heading back to Denver on Friday.

In my opinion, who ever wins this game, will win the series.

"Game 5 statistically historically is much easier to win than Game 7," Nuggets coach George Karl said on Tuesday. "I think we all know that. I think the bounce we got off last night's game, no one knows what bounce we got, but we're hoping we got the bounce and we can handle it professionally and come out and match their energy, match their home court intensity. We need to figure out how to win in the fourth quarter."

The Nuggets, who have already won at the staples center in this series are looking to do it today. Game one could have been a win if it wasn't for Ariza's great defence.

Carmelo Anthony is expected to play a little bit better then he played yesterday. Carmelo has averaged 36.5 PPG on 26-49 (56 percent) shooting at the Staples Center.

Rebounding is also going to be huge as the Nuggets murdered the Lakers 58-40 in the rebounded category. Kenyon Martin and Nene both recorded double doubles with 15 rebounds for Martin, and 13 for Nene. Pau Gasol was the only player who had 10+ rebounds for the Lakers.

Energy off the bench is also huge. With the Lakers playing at home, we should expect a better performance from Sasha and company. The Lakers were outscored 42-24 in bench points on Monday. Containing Jr Smith is going to be huge because of both Anthony and Smith get going its going to spell the demise of the Lakers.

Those plays that don't show up on the stat sheet. Those are huge to.

"They whooped us, period,'' said Kobe Bryant, who scored 34 points against the Nuggets in a loss. "They whooped us on the glass. They whooped us to loose balls.''

Both Odom and Ariza are needed to play exceptional, even through their injuries.

“I wouldn’t make excuses, especially if I’m out on the court,” Odom said. “I wouldn’t blame not playing well on being hurt or injured. I’m just not playing well at the time and for this team to be good I need to pick it up.”

“I’m all right … I just didn’t have it yesterday,” Ariza said. “A lot of us are banged up, but that’s a part of the game. Especially now, it’s going to be physical. People are going to play tougher, we got to fight through it.”

It seems the no rest they received by going to game seven against Houston is started to kick in.

Billups thinks his teams has a good chance of wining tonight's game.

"I'm sure the world wants to see Cleveland and the Lakers'' in the NBA finals, he said. "You've got the best two players in the world, a chance to see them play in a seven-game series. I don't want to see it. Man, I don't want to see it. And I'm trying my best not to make that happen.''

Game five starts at 6 PM PT/ 9 EST on ESPN