Lakers-Nuggets Game 6: Preview Madness
Everyone's got predictions and advice. I know how to use the blog's "link" function. As Hannibal Smith says, "I love it when a plan comes together."
First up is ESPN/Scouts Inc. writer Mike Moreau, who encourages more of the ball movement that kept Denver on their heels during Game 5.
In Game 5, with the ball changing hands and sides of the floor quickly, the Lakers not only created opportunities inside but also opened up opportunities for everyone on the offensive end. Eight players took at least five shots, and no one took more than 15. With 25 assists on their 37 field goals, the Lakers played their best offensive game of the series.
That is the Lakers' formula for winning Game 6, and they must be deliberate in their emphasis of quick ball movement and reversal to get the ball inside and to keep everyone involved. This also takes the pressure off Bryant and keeps him fresh for the key possessions in the fourth quarter.
There's also Forum Blue and Gold writer Darius, offering two approaches that deal directly with Denver's interior
- Attack Nene. Denver has proven to be a different team when Nene is in foul trouble. He’s key to their P&R and interior defense(s) and is their best passing AND finishing big man. Once Andersen comes in, they are more prone to giving up offensive boards and become less reliable with their interior rotations (they may get more blocks, but they also give up more lanes to the basket). Attack Nene on the block and off the dribble with Gasol and Kobe should do the same when handling the ball.
- End every stop with a rebound. Denver only stayed in Game 5 in the first half because they were grabbing a bunch of their own misses and making us pay. Secure the ball, push it back at them and then establish the post to play inside-out. We can create cross matches in transition and we can get them in scramble mode if we get up court quickly and start to move the ball.
The Lakers are just 48 hours removed from the closing twenty or so minutes of Game 5, arguably their best of roundball of the postseason. That finish creates hope of a tone set to be carried forward. However, a 1-4 record in games with closure potential leaves The O.C. Register's Kevin Ding feeling like the pudding's proof remains in question.
What Jackson would love to see is the Lakers show some growth and execute coldly rather than play well because they’re smarting from defeat. As Derek Fisher said about this lack of self-motivation, the goal is to “right that for ourselves” in Game 6. It would be the perfect way for the Lakers to move into the NBA Finals, where they’re bound to be, either way. No Jackson-coached team has ever lost a home Game 7, but beyond that, 125 of the previous 150 teams to win Game 5 after 2-2 series ties have advanced … a robust 83.3 percent.
So the Lakers have nothing to
fear. (By contrast, Orlando has to be a little uneasy, because if they
don’t win Game 6 at home, they’re facing Game 7 on the road. That’s the
same slippery slope that sent the Lakers crashing after a 3-1 series
advantage over Phoenix in 2006.) The question is whether these Lakers have evolved to the point they are motivated by something other than fear.
As for the Nuggets' quest to stave off elimination, Chris Mannix's suspects cues to be taken (or offered, at the very least) from Chauncey Billups, the most successful Denver-ian of them all.
When you have been to seven straight conference finals, two NBA Finals and have a shiny Finals MVP trophy collecting dust on your mantle like Nuggets point guard Chauncey Billups has, chances are you don't sweat the small stuff. Like, you know, your team trailing 3-2 in the 2009 Western Conference finals.
"Nope," said Billups as he left a team meeting in Los Angeles on Thursday. "Everyone knows what I have been through. Guys that have been through what I have and lost are a dime a dozen. They brought me here to win. Guys can pull from me what I have been through and learn from how I got out if it."
And I'll add one more thought....
I'm wondering Sasha Vujacic might get a DNP-CD. He only played 3:32 during Game 5, a first half cameo seemingly prompted by Trevor Ariza picking up three fouls and Luke Walton two. From there, Kobe slid over to the three and Sasha entered the picture. Had Luke not picked up the additional personal, I'm thinking Sasha wouldn't have played at all.
Granted, his time ended up productive (a big buzzer beating trey to wrap up the half at 56 apiece), but "productive" is also an adjective exceedingly rare for The Machine's postseason burn, generally speaking. Factor in Shannon Brown's extremely good showing during the Lakers 23-5 run, signs of life from Derek Fisher and Sasha's habit of playing too frantically during short stints, and I don't think he's a lock to play without circumstances dictating duty. We shall see.
See y'all soon!