Ahead 2-0 in their first round playoff series, the Los Angeles Lakers have eaten the Denver Nuggets for dinner in their first two games. But, is that good for the Lakers in the long run? Can the Nuggets make it a series when it shifts to Denver?
In both games, the Lakers took big leads, only to let them slip away. After losing their early 27-14 lead in game one, the Lakers still managed to win 103-88. But, in game two (where the Lakers led 13-2), the Nuggets made it interesting as they fought back until the bitter end, finally relenting in a 104-100 loss to L.A.
It seems the Lakers know they can beat the Nuggets, and only a lack of focus and effort could cause the Lakers to crumble.
Nuggets v Lakers game 2:
For the Nuggets, their up-tempo style has given the Lakers problems. The key for the Lakers is controlling the tempo, making it a half-court game and slowing the game down. If the Nuggets can turn the game into a track meet, they have a better chance to win. When the Lakers play a patient, half-court style and work the basketball inside-out, they can be successful. The team that can dominate the tempo will win the series.
In the first two games, Bynum and Bryant have been beastly. Bynum’s historic triple-double in game one and Bryant’s 38 points in game two have the Lakers looking to go up 3-0. But, if they plan to do so, their starters must play well enough to make up for the Lakers’ bench, which will likely struggle on the road.
Bynum’s triple double:
Other than the Miami Heat, who blew out the New York Knicks by 33 in game one and won by 10 in game two, the Lakers are the only team that is cruising through their first round series. Even in the Oklahoma City Thunder v Dallas Mavericks series, each game has been hotly contested. Having some close games, overtimes—losses even—helps teams develop more championship grit. Since Ramon Sessions and Jordan Hill are new to the team, it may benefit the team as a whole to go through some of these playoff growing pains.
The Lakers may hope for some road woes sooner rather than later in these playoffs, so while it’s been smooth sailing so far, the Lakers actually need some foul weather before they (likely) meet the Thunder.
Rob S. De France is a College and University instructor of English Composition living in Los Angeles. He has a B.A. in English and an M.A. in Rhetoric, Composition, and Writing. De France has played, coached, and officiated competitive high school basketball in California for many years. Recently, De France, his wife, and another colleague started an internationally read magazine at Shwibly.com.