The Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Lakers have met before in the NBA playoffs and it was a closer series than many thought. It was back in 2009 when the two teams met in the Western Conference Finals with the Lakers eventually winning the series 4-2. What many people forget about that series is that the Nuggets could have easily gone back to Denver with a 2-0 series lead if they could have simply inbounded a pass correctly. With that said though, the Lakers ended up winning that series fair and square mainly because Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant had their way with the Denver defense.
Things are a little different now as both teams have different identities and new faces. This is especially true for the Nuggets with Chris Anderson as the only remaining Nugget from that series. An injection of youth has been shot into the Nuggets after they parted ways with veterans Chauncey Billups, Carmelo Anthony, Kenyon Martin and Nene. They’ve been replaced with young legs like Ty Lawson, Danilo Galinari, Javale Mcgee and Kenneth Faried. The Nuggets have a totally different roster, they play very well together and they put up a whole bunch of points.
As for the Lakers, they are also a different team with new players that were not on the 2009 Western Conference Championship team. They no longer have the Zen Master Phil Jackson, 6th man Lamar Odom, veteran point guard Derek Fisher or vital swingman Trevor Ariza (he made the steal on the inbound pass in game one of the WCF). However, they do still have Bryant, Gasol and Andrew Bynum which is a very formidable three-headed monster.
The teams met four times this season with the Lakers winning the season series 3-1. All four games have been pretty close and could have gone either way and that’s how I expect this series to go. If the Nuggets can somehow win one of the first two games in LA, I think they can win the series. They have the younger legs that can wear down the Lakers if the series goes the distance. Regardless of the young legs, it is hard to bet against Kobe Bryant in an NBA Playoff series due to his intense will to win. But I’m going to do it anyways and say that the Nuggets win and advance to the second round.
Prediction: Nuggets win the series 4-2
Here’s what the schedule for the series looks like:
Game 1: Denver Nuggets at LA Lakers- Sun 3:30 ET, ABC
Game 2: Denver Nuggets at LA Lakers- Tue 10:30 ET, TNT
Game 3: LA Lakers at Denver Nuggets- Fri 10:30 ET, ESPN
Game 4: LA Lakers at Denver Nuggets- Sun May 6 9:30 ET, TNT
Game 5: Denver Nuggets at LA LAkers- Tue May 8*
Game 6: LA Lakers at Denver- Thur May 10*
Game 7: Denver Nuggets at LA Lakers- Sat May 12*