The Nuggets earned the sixth seed in their ninth consecutive playoffs, taking on the third seeded Lakers. In those nine consecutive appearances, Denver has only won two playoff series, both in 2009, which set them up for Western Conference Finals against the Lakers. The Nuggets lost that series in six games.
While Chris Anderson, who never plays, is the only Nugget remaining from the 2009 series, Coach George Karl and the city of Denver will forever be haunted by two similar moments. The Nuggets could not inbound the ball late in the game in games one and three and lost both of them. The intercepted passes could have been the difference in a series that the Nuggets lost four games to two. Of course Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol also had a lot to do with the series win.
The Nuggets also lost to the Lakers in 2008 in the playoffs with a first round sweep for L.A. The Lakers make up has also changed. Without Phil Jackson behind the bench and with the trades of Derek Fisher and Lamar Odom, the Lakers are vulnerable in the first round for the first time in years. The youthful and plentiful Denver Nuggets will throw everything they can at a Lakers’ team that has struggled at times. Additionally, a disgruntled legend in Kobe Bryant may allow the Nuggets to sneak in.
The biggest difference with this Nuggets’ team is their big men. Javale McGee, Kosta Koufos and Timofey Mozgov give the Nuggets a rotating core to take on Andrew Bynum’s moves to the rim that have been so effective. On top of that, rookie Kenneth Faried along with Al Harrington and Danilo Gallinari can give Pau Gasol a hard time as well. The Nuggets’ energy up front with Ty Lawson and Corey Brewer will try to tire out the Lakers’ older players. In addition Arron Afflalo’s threes can be deadly.
The biggest problem for the Nuggets is consistency. They are a young team with role players. It is rare that all of them are on every night. For the Nuggets to win this series they need to have most of their players firing on all cylinders every night. This could be the most exciting series to watch in the first round pitting the Nuggets’ fast paced game vs. Kobe Bryant. Just a heads up Nuggets, watch those inbounds passes.