Nuggets-Lakers West Finals: Why Denver Will Win It

Zach AmburgeyCorrespondent IMay 18, 2009

LOS ANGELES - APRIL 3:  Carmello Anthony #15 (L) of the Denver Nuggets and Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers joke around during the game at Staples Center April 3, 2007 in Los Angeles, California.  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 Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)

The Western Conference finals this season is sure to be a good showdown.

You have the ultimate showdown of NBA scorers: Melo vs. Kobe.

An actual good low-post match-up: Kenyon Martin and Nene vs. Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum

The point guard match-up: Chauncey Billups vs. Derek Fisher

The swingmen battle: J.R. Smith and Dahntay Jones vs. Lamar Odom and Trevor Ariza.

This bench showdown, which is pretty favorable to the Lakers' side.

The series all together will be an exciting one that I see going to seven games.

I love the Nuggets, and I have been waiting for the year we could make a run for an NBA Championship.

This is the year.

Melo is playing great, and he isn't playing selfish. Nene is finally showing the player he can be, and Martin is showing no signs of knee problems and playing very solid. Smith and Jones are both playing very well right now, and the big addition of Billups was the biggest pick up not only of the 2008-09 season, but in any season for quite some time.

The key for the Nuggets in this series is their defense. They can't allow the Lakers to go off for 125 to 130 points night in and night out. The Denver defense has been the problem over the years. Now with Allen Iverson gone, and a solid defensive point guard in Billups roaming around, and the rebounding much improved, the Nuggets' defense is also improving.

The key for the Lakers is to provide help for Kobe and try and feed the post as much as possible. Now the Nuggets low-post defensive game is solid, but it's hard for any team in the NBA to handle Gasol and Bynum. Then you also have to worry about Ariza and Odom, two guys who love to get the ball in the post, score, and dish it out.

I believe the Lakers' bench will also be a big key. They are deeper than Denver, so they have an edge in that category.

I believe the coaching match-up is in the air. Obviously Phil Jackson has the better career of the two, but George Karl has the Nuggets playing well in the post season.

Jackson hasn't had to much success since coming back to L.A. in the post season, but the Lakers have looked very tough at times, then very weak at others. The big loss to Houston really showed me L.A. could be in deep trouble come the conference finals, if they even made it. They did destroy Houston in game 7, but the Rockets are not exactly the Nuggets. They don't have the scorers or the low-post game since losing Yao.

I believe Denver has a very good shot at winning this series. They are hotter than any team left, besides Cleveland, which hasn't played a game in what seems like years.

The Nuggets have the scorers in Melo, Billups, Nene, Martin, and Smith, and they have the scrappy guys in Jones and Klieza.

L.A. of course has Kobe, two very solid low-post men, and the role players who do their jobs and do them well. Denver will need big play from their stars and again play excellent defense.

Martin can be a big key for the Nuggets in this series. He can get you 15 to 17 points a night, seven to 10 rebounds, block a few shots, and play very good defense. The Nuggets will need all of those numbers and abilities night in and night out.

Fisher and Odom are the darkhorses for me with the Lakers. Odom is a scrappy guy who can shoot and loves to attack the basket. Fisher is a true point guard who really loves getting everyone involved, but he isn't afraid to step up and knock down a big shot.

Kobe is the go-to guy, of course, but if Denver can limit his touches, putting Jones or Smith on him, then they can give L.A. fits.

The good thing for Laker fans is Denver likes to give up points. My keys for them is their defense, but it hasn't been all there so far in the playoffs.

In the first round, they held New Orleans to 84 points per game. The Dallas series was the biggie for me. Dallas put up over 105 points in the final four games, they averaged about 107 in the series.

No disrespect to Dallas, but their offensive game isn't close to L.A's. The Nuggets will need to hold the Lakers to about 102 points a game for the series if they want to win it. Under 100 would be great.

The Lakers have great tools and weapons that could abuse Denver, but Denver plays much harder and more physical than L.A. Bryant is a cry baby, and Smith and Jones should be able to get in his head by roughing him up and letting him cry to the refs as he always does.

The series should be great. I'll take the Nuggets in 7. Why? Because Karl has them playing great, Melo is playing so well right now, Billups leads this team better than any other point guard in the NBA could, they are going to play hard, rough, and physical, and their low-post game can actually match up well with the Lakers.

They better hold Kobe under 24 to 22 points a game for the series, and if so, they can and should win it. Don't let Gasol out-rebound the big men, and let Bynum struggle and force him to take jumpers if he is out far enough. Let Fisher be Fisher, but try and contain Ariza and Odom. Those two can really, really hurt you.

Denver in seven, should be exciting to watch.


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