Western Conference Finals Preview: How Los Angeles Lakers can beat Denver Nuggets
The Nuggets have looked impressive dismantling an upstart Hornets side in the first round and routing the Mavericks in five games. And based on playoff performance, it could be argued that George Karl’s squad are currently the west’s best team. Below are four keys to slowing The Mile High City. Kobe and company better take note because the Western Conference Finals are quickly coming …
The war of attrition has ended.
After seven gruelling games, the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Houston Rockets on Sunday afternoon to advance to the Western Conference Finals. Their opponent, the Denver Nuggets, is well rested and peaking at the right time of the season.
The Nuggets have looked impressive dismantling an upstart Hornets side in the first round and routing the Mavericks in five games. And based on playoff performance, it could be argued that George Karl’s squad are currently the west’s best team.
Below are four keys to slowing The Mile High City. Kobe Bryant and company better take note because the Western Conference Finals are quickly coming.
#4) Outwork their posts …
Denver’s bigs compensate for their lack of height with spirited play. Kenyon Martin is enjoying a renaissance and looks like the intimidating four-man who helped New Jersey get to consecutive NBA Finals. Nene has had a solid season at the five spot, while reserves Chris Anderson and Renaldo Balkman are terrific energy guys.
The Western Conference Finals will be won in the dirty areas, so Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, and Josh Powell have to control the glass and painted area. Martin, in particular, can’t be allowed to set the tone physically.
#3) Match their bench …
They have an outstanding bench. J.R. Smith, who resembles the second coming of Vinnie Johnson, is instant offense. Veteran Anthony Carter is a steady hand at the back-up point guard spot and, as previously mentioned, Anderson and Balkman have had fine seasons.
Whatever line-up Phil Jackson settles on, the Lakers’ reserves must provide energy, scoring, and hustle. They need to match the Nuggets’ talented second stringers.
#2) Turn ‘Melo into a volume shooter …
The Lakers must make Carmelo Anthony revert back to his old shot happy, black hole ways. ‘Melo, and the Nuggets, are less effective when he takes tons of shots to get his points. Look for Trevor Ariza and Lamar Odom to take turns goading the All-Star into firing up bad attempts.
#1) Neutralize Mr. Big Shot …
Chuancey Billups is the straw that stirs the drink. After getting traded to Denver in November for Allen Iverson, the point guard put together a superb season and was deserving of more MVP consideration.
Containing Billups is a must. Fortunately, the Lakers have six players, including three point-guards, to throw at the former Finals MVP. Derek Fisher and Shannon Brown have excellent size, while Jordan Farmar has the speed to provide a change of pace. Trevor Ariza, Kobe Bryant, and Lamar Odom could also get an opportunity to defend Billups.