LA Lakers vs Denver Nuggets: Preview
The LA Lakers will take on the Denver Nuggets tomorrow morning at 9 AM on Sony SIX. Both teams have near identical records, with the Lakers standing at 7-8 and the Nuggets at 8-8.
Ever since the Lakers’ latest two peat, every year it’s almost taken for granted that they will be major contenders, come playoff time. If you ask the casual fan if the Lakers will beat the Nuggets, the answer will be a resounding ‘Yes’, followed by a question about which city the Nuggets play for. The Nuggets may not be the most popular team in the league, but they can play with the best. The Nuggets are coming off a heartbreaking loss vs the Warriors today. They had the game within one basket, but Igoudala’s buzzer beater was ruled out as having come 0.10 seconds too late. The Nuggets were running off to their locker room to celebrate, before the referees recalled them back to announce that the shot had been waived off. Nuggets will be seething and looking to make a mark vs the Lakers
Iggy is averaging around 16 points per game and if there is a player in the league who can slow down Kobe Bryant, it’s Igoudala. The swingman has a habit of holding opposing players to well below their averages. Along with him, the 6-foot-8 Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried also poses matchup problems for the Lakers and provides an athletic presence to help contain Kobe.
The Lakers are coming off an ugly loss to the Pacers. Ugly in spite of Kobe dropping 40 points. Gasol, Howard and World Peace combined had fewer attempts than Kobe did. For the Lakers to leverage their biggest strength, their bigs, Kobe needs to move the ball around. The Lakers shot just 31.6 percent from the field, committed 19 turnovers, 10 by Kobe Bryant himself. And that was vs the Pacers. The Nuggets are a much tougher opponents.
“It’s been a tough stretch for us early in the season,” Howard said. “We can’t lose our faith. We’ll find a rhythm and we’ll get in a groove, but we can’t let what we’re going through get us down right now.”
The Nuggets have had a see-saw season thus far. They started the season on a three-game losing streak, then won four in a row, then lost three again, then won four again, and have now lost two straight. Following that pattern, they ought to win this one or lose the next two. But they aren’t consistent enough to adhere to that pattern.
For the Nuggets, Wilson Chandler is out with an injury and Gallinari is ill but is expected to play. For the Lakers, Steve Nash and Steve Blake are out and Kobe is still having some signs of the flu which bothered him vs the Pacers but as it didn’t stop him then, it won’t tomorrow either.
The Lakers’ biggest weakness has been the point guard spot, for both reasons, having a player there and having to contain the point guards of the opponent. Ty Lawson makes for a tough matchup for any team to contain. And the Nuggets have the size up front to at least match up Gasol and Howard with big bodies. As mentioned before, they have two lanky swingmen who can give Kobe Bryant nightmares. Expect the Nuggets to win this one, provided they have overcome the fatigue of today’s match.
Here are the expected starting lineups:
Metta World Peace