Discipline: What the Lakers Need To Finish Off the Nuggets in Game Six

Michael Del MuroCorrespondent IMay 29, 2009

DENVER - MAY 25:  J.R. Smith #1 of the Denver Nuggets dunks the ball over Andrew Bynum #17 of the Los Angeles Lakers 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 Larry W. Smith-Pool/Getty Images)

With three often-dominant big men, most assume that the Lakers would use the inside game to their advantage.

People assume that the Lakers would start the game by pounding the ball into 7'1" Andrew Bynum, and then they'd finish the game pounding it into 7' Pau Gasol. And in between all that pounding inside, 6'10" Lamar Odom would use his freakish versatility to absolutely confound the opposing team's power forward.

Well, that's how Game Five of the Lakers-Nuggets series went, with the Los Angeles outscoring Denver by 18 in points in the paint.

So we should assume that's how they'll play Game Six, right?

Not necessarily.

The Lakers have a history of playing at their opponent's tempo, especially on the road.

Instead of counting on the half-court game and offensive efficiency, the Lakers grab rebounds, sprint up the court and jack up three-point shot after three-point shot.

If they play like that tonight, it'll play right into the Nuggets' game plan.

The key word for the Lakers tonight is "discipline."

On the offensive end, the Lakers need to be disciplined enough to not take quick shots and to play the inside-out game that was so successful in Game Five.

Kobe Bryant needs to be disciplined enough to continue taking what the defense gives him. Who really cares what that guy in Cleveland did last night?

The perimeter players need to be disciplined enough to enter the ball in the post and not jack up threes every time they have some breathing room (this means you Derek Fisher).

On defense, the Lakers need to be disciplined enough to help out when double teaming Carmelo Anthony. No easy back-door cuts and dunks.

The defenders need to stick on the shooters. No open three-point shots. How many times can Linus Kleiza hurt them in this series?

In addition, the Lakers need to be disciplined enough to block out on every shot. If they limit the Nuggets to 10 or less offensive rebounds, they'll win this game convincingly.

If the Lakers do the above things, they'll keep the crowd out of the game and Staples Center will be dark on Sunday.

If not, Game Seven will be all-or-nothing and with a young, cocky, and thuggish Denver team, I'm not sure that's something the Lakers will want to face.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.