Lakers-Nuggets: Game One Preview

Clublakers.comAnalyst IApril 20, 2008

It’s time.

Time for Kobe Bryant to take the stage yet again in the postseason.

Time for the Los Angeles Lakers to demonstrate why they are one of the most storied franchises in all of sports.

Time to begin the journey for yet another championship banner to hang in the rafters.

The Lakers begin their 2007-08 postseason in the Staples Center against a prolific Denver Nuggets squad, whom they defeated on three separate occasions throughout the regular season.

The Lakers enter postseason play having claimed the highly coveted No. 1 seed — meaning home-court advantage throughout the Western Conference playoffs, a component that will pay huge dividends for a team as young as the currently assembled Laker unit.

For Allen Iverson, it’s no unfamiliar task being matched up against Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers. The veteran guard led his 2001 Philadelphia 76ers to the NBA Finals to face the Western Conference powerhouse, L.A. Lakers.

Iverson scored 48 points in a Game One victory, handing the Lakers their only loss that postseason, but Philadelphia failed to come away with another victory in the series, as they lost in five games.

“A team that’s won 50 games and is the eighth seed [Denver Nuggets], I think that’s remarkable,” said Bryant, who is averaging a shade over 25 points per game in his career against the Nuggets.

“We have a lot of confidence,” continued Bryant. “We have some experience as well. We’re ready to go. We just have to move the ball. We’re a great team when everybody’s moving and cutting.”

Though the Lakers are favored to advance past Denver and into the second round,  the Nuggets aren’t a team to be taken lightly.

“Their productivity’s been really high,” Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. “They’re a real quick-hit type of team.

"We’ve got to do a job. We won’t curtail our guys from getting up and down the court. We have to know what are good shots and what aren’t in the transition game.”

The Lakers defeated Denver all three times without Pau Gasol in the lineup.

Missing young center Andrew Bynum since mid-January, Gasol filled the void of an inside presence for the Lakers.

Los Angeles who immediately climbed in the standings upon the arrival of Spanish forward, who is averaging roughly 17 points per game in his career against the Nuggets.

“I knew I could be a great fit,” Gasol said. “The system, the players, the style of their game - it all felt right.”

Andrew Bynum and Trevor Ariza are not expected to return for this series.