Lakers-Nuggets Game Two: The Three Keys to Success for Both Teams

Brandon Ribak@reebokforthreeSenior Writer IMay 21, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 19:  Nene #31 of the Denver Nuggets goes up for a dunk over Pau Gasol #16 of the Los Angeles Lakers in Game One of the Western Conference Finals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 19, 2009 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 Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Denver Nuggets

Keep Nene out of Foul Trouble

Nene played a total of 21 minutes in Game One due to foul trouble during the third quarter of action. He picked up his second foul of the game at the eight minute mark and quickly received his third and fourth with just less than six minutes in the third.

Nene then picked up his fifth foul with seven minutes remaining in final quarter, missing four minutes of critical play before returning to the court. With a little over a minute left in regulation, Nene picked up his sixth foul, leaving the game with Denver up by two points.

If Denver want to win a game in this series, they must keep Nene out of foul trouble. He needs to average a minimum of 30 MPG, 14 to 17 PPG, 8 to 10 RPG, and shoot the ball at least 10 to 14 times per game.

In Game One he put up a weak 14 points and 5 boards on 6-for-9 shooting.

Get J.R. Smith To Produce

J.R. Smith must step up throughout this series. During the first two rounds of the playoffs, Smith averaged 16.3 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 2.5 APG, and 1.1 SPG on 49 percent field-goal shooting and 40 percent shooting from beyond the arc.

In Game One, he scored a lousy eight points, shooting a horrific 28.6 percent from the field (2-for-7 FG) and nailing just two three-pointers.

Smith has been known to absolutely terrorize opponents from beyond the three-point line. He has potential to absolutely blow up during any moment in any game.

The Nuggets have to get Smith going if they want a chance at winning.

Knock Down Those Free Points

Denver shot 65.7 percent from the charity stripe, going just 23-for-35 from the line and missing a total of 12 free points.

When it comes down to it, if the Nuggets had made their free-throws, more likely than not they would have won Game One.

A huge part of winning is knocking down those free points. Every point counts, especially when you lose in a Western Conference Finals series by two.

Los Angeles Lakers

Kobe Needs Help Too!

If Bryant had not drained a total of 40 points (13-of-28 FG) and especially 18 of them in the fourth, the Lakers would not be up one game to nothing.

Aside from Bryant, only two other Lakers scored in double digits: Pau Gasol (13 points), and Derek Fisher (13 points).

Players like Andrew Bynum, Trevor Ariza, and Lamar Odom must step up their production for the Lakers to capture their second victory in this series.

If these players continue their lack of offensive production, you can almost guarantee a Denver win tonight.

Too Deep Not Always Too Good!

Lakers head coach Phil Jackson needs to change up his rotation a bit.

Most coaches in the playoffs like to go with a eight or nine-man roster, but Jackson insists on relinquishing minutes from his elite players like Odom, Bynum, and Ariza. He instead hands down minutes to players like Josh Powell, Luke Walton, and Sasha Vujacic, who practically never make an impact in the game (Jackson even went as far as giving Mbenga 22 seconds of action!).

Going too deep into the bench is not always a good thing. The Lakers should play Jordan Farmar, Shannon Brown, and Lamar Odom off of the bench, that is it.

Raise that FG Percentage Up a Bit!

During the regular season, the Lakers ranked third in the entire NBA in FG percentage, shooting 47.4 percent from the floor.

In the first two rounds of the playoffs, L.A. shot just around the same as they did during the season (47 percent).

In Game One, the Lakers shot just 41.1 percent from the field and still managed to pull out a victory. If L.A. wants to seal the deal before the remaining seconds of regulation in Game Two, they will have to shoot the ball at a higher field-goal percentage.


Game One was awesome. The intensity was brought by both teams, but in the end, the team with the championship swagger pulled out a victory.

I believe Game Two will be a little different. The Nuggets are playing outstanding basketball and I expect Carmelo Anthony to go out their and post up career playoff-high numbers tonight.

Nuggets win 106-100


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