The Denver Nuggets were thoroughly outmatched in game one of their Western Conference playoff series against the Los Angeles Lakers. My preview of the series may have been a little bit of a stretch due to overlooking how dominant Andrew Bynum actually is. The big man tied a playoff record with 10 blocks as part of his triple-double performance en route to LA’s 103-88 rout in the series opener.
If the Nuggets do not want to fall into an 0-2 hole heading back to Denver they need to get back to what they do best tonight in game two:
Run the floor.
The Nuggets were the highest scoring team in the NBA this season averaging 104.1 points per game and a major proponent of their game is the fastbreak. The Lakers did a good job in slowing down the Nuggets’ transition attack, only giving up 19 fastbreak points in game one. Denver had a tough time getting out on the break after missed shots and that is something they will need to improve on tonight in game two. Without the transition game Bynum has the opportunity to camp out in the lane and block/affect/rearrange every Nuggets shot attempt inside.
Here are the keys to the Nuggets success in game two:
-Ty Lawson needs to play better. Coming into the series against the Lakers, the point guard position was one of the only advantages the Nuggets were thought to have the upper hand. Lawson is Denver’s leading scorer and he was coming off a torrid finish to the regular season while LA’s Ramon Sessions was playing his first ever playoff game. Lawson was a no-show in game one scoring only seven points while not hitting a field goal until the fourth quarter and Sessions played well in his playoff debut. He will need to have a big game tonight for the Nuggets to have a chance.
-Continue to attack the paint. I know what you are thinking, why would the Nuggets continue to go inside when they had 15 of their shots blocked in game one? As effective as Andrew Bynum is at changing shots inside, Denver cannot let that change their whole game plan. Along with being the highest scoring team in the league, they are also one of the top teams in scoring points in the paint. If you don’t succeed try, try again and in this case if they Nuggets are aggressive it may lead to more foul calls and free throws. They can’t play timid, not in the playoffs.
- Guard the 3-ball. The Nuggets did an ok job in game one but LA still shot over 35% from the three-point line and drained six from behind the arc. Denver is so keen on trying to stop the Lakers’ inside game, rightfully so, but they can’t completely ignore the 3-point line either. Giving up 3-pointers has been a problem for the Nuggets all season long and they need to shore up that issue tonight in order to limit LA’s full offensive potential.