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Category: Lakers predictions

Miami Heat would give Lakers trouble in NBA Finals

Kobe Bryant

Team: Miami Heat

Lakers' record vs. Miami last season: 0-2

How Heat fared last season: Lost in six games to Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Finals

Why Miami is a threat to the Lakers: The Lakers' championship window is closing, while the Miami Heat's is just opening. Ridicule LeBron James' fourth-quarter collapses in the NBA Finals and the team's false expectations during a hastily arranged pep rally that they'd win "multiple championships." But after stripping away the hype, the Heat were two games away from winning the NBA title in only one season with James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh playing together.

They showed more maturity as the season progressed in handling adversity, an area that will strengthen next season. Another season will also afford James and Wade time to figure out each other's roles, Bosh to become more consistent and President Pat Riley to pick up a free agent piece to bolster the roster. A healthier Mike Miller and Udonis Haslem will also give the Heat more depth.

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Do the Nuggets have the Lakers right where they want them?

Woody Paige of the Denver Post theorizes that the Nuggets will finish sixth in the Western Conference this season, leading them to a first-round playoff matchup with the Lakers. And as Paige wrote:

"I think they're stuck in sixth place and will play the Lakers in the first round, which, oddly enough, may be their best matchup. There is no way they can beat the Spurs or the Mavericks, and probably no way they can beat the Lakers, but they should win a couple."

So not only does Paige think the Lakers have little, if any, chance of passing Dallas to finish second in the conference, he also thinks they are the most vulnerable of the big three in the West.

Thoughts?

-- Houston Mitchell

James Worthy gives his two cents on the Lakers-Suns series

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Predictions are about as valuable as the ones making them. And in this case, getting a perspective from former Lakers star and current K-CAL 9 analyst James Worthy on how the Lakers will shape up in the Western Conference Finals against the Phoenix Suns bodes more importance than, say, hearing from me.

After talking all things Lakers with 710 ESPN's Mychal Thompson and Andrew Siciliano Tuesday at Morton's Steakhouse as part of the ''Lunch With a Legend'' series, James quickly shared with me his thoughts on how the Lakers-Suns series might go.

Mark Medina: Why do you believe the Lakers will win the series in five games?

James Worthy: The Suns and Lakers have two contrasting styles. But I think if the Lakers play their game, the length and go inside, I just don't see how Phoenix is going to be able to contend with that.

MM: What's your take on the week-long lapse for both teams? How do you weigh the positive aspect with both teams being able to rest versus the momentum they have to somehow replicate?

JW: I'm torn. I think a couple days off is good, but more than three or four days is not good for any team at this time of the year. You just can't keep your momentum or your timing. You can practice against each other, but there's something about a game situation. I'm not sure how this happened. I think maybe the league didn't expect the teams to be swept like they did and it would be prolonged. Too much time is not good for anybody.

MM: What level of concern do you have with the news that Andrew Bynum has experienced more swelling in his right knee?

JW: I think he can obviously play through it. You have to have a strong mentality. If you feel pain, you have to make up your mind whether you can play with it or not. You can't talk about it as much and you can't be complaining about it. That's what concerned me. I heard him say it was the worst it's ever been the other day. That's not good. If you're going to say that, I would say maybe not play. But you have to know what moves are not painful. You have to go out and know what you can do. It's the defense that you have to react spontaneously. But you can play with that injury, maybe not 100% but you have to decide if you'll play with it. Once you decide that you'll play with it, that knee has to be strong to some extent in your mind.

MM: What do you make of the news that just came out where The Times' Mike Bresnahan reported that Kobe Bryant had a significant amount of fluid drained from his right knee?

JW: It's somewhat of a normal procedure sometimes when you have a knee drained... so long as it's not something you have to do every game. It doesn't surprise me that part of Kobe's conditioning is he's on top of everything. To have his knee drained is not a big deal, it's not like Andrew's, where it's constantly swelling all the time. It doesn't concern me about Kobe. Plus he can play with it. He's proven he can play with it. I'm not too concerned about that.

MM: You mentioned during the "Lunch With a Legend" that the playoff series will be predicated on which team imposes its philosophy, whether it's the Lakers playing at their deliberate pace or Phoenix's run-and-gun style. What does it come down to as far what the Lakers need to do to play their style?

JW: First, they have to expose Phoenix on the defensive end. They have to take away their strength by exposing them on the defensive end. Making them play defense will take away from their punch that they'll be able to deliver on the other end. When you have Andrew, Pau [Gasol], Lamar [Odom], maybe put Kobe and [Ron] Artest at the guards and make [Steve] Nash play either Kobe or Artest, you're going to have to deviate from the norm. That's up to the coaches. But I think the Lakers have to pound it inside. With that, they'll get them in foul trouble and will get to the line more. I think if they allow Nash to flow and they get those threes going, it could be difficult.

MM: What other X-factors do you see this in series, whether it be an individual performance or an overall area that's critical?

Worthy: The area that is most concerning for me is the bench. Phoenix's bench is scoring about 32 points per game and they are consistently doing that. The Lakers are at about 23. So when they're out of the game, [Jared] Dudley, [Goran] Dragic, really step it up with Grant Hill and some of those other players. That's going to be a concern. The bench has to continue to play. But I think [Amare] Stoudemire is a key factor for them and how he can put the ball on the floor and get our bigs in foul trouble. But other than that, their best lineup doesn't beat the Lakers, in my opinion.

Below are audio files of Worthy's conversation with Thompson and Siciliano:

Among the highlights:

Worthy's take on the Lakers-Suns series

James Worthy Part 1


Why Worthy believes Odom still needs to play more consistently

James Worthy Part 2


Worthy's recollections of the Showtime Era

James Worthy Part 3


What it was like for Worthy to play for Dean Smith and Pat Riley

James Worthy Part 4


-- Mark Medina

Follow the L.A. Times Lakers blog on Twitter: twitter.com/latmedina. E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Photo: James Worthy believes the Lakers will beat the Suns in the Western Conference Finals in five games. Credit: Los Angeles Times.

Lakers-Suns matchup: Reporters share their series predictions

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Mark Heisler, L.A. Times' NBA columnist

Pick: Lakers in five

Reason: Lakers in five, assuming the usual suspects' knees hold up and Steve Nash doesn't figure out a way to shoot 21-for-20.

Mike Bresnahan, L.A. Times' Lakers beat reporter

Pick: Lakers in five

Reason: I love watching the Suns' offense and they are a surprising 8-2 in the playoffs. But they have no answer for the Lakers' size ... or that Bryant guy.

Broderick Turner, L.A. Times' Lakers beat reporter

Pick: Lakers in six

Reason: Lakers are just too big for Phoenix. The Lakers are also athletic enough that they can defend their three-point shooters and pick-and-roll offense.

Mark Medina, L.A. Times' Lakers blogger

Pick: Lakers in five

Reason: Both teams have been playing at their peak, but the Suns won't be able to match the Lakers' size. The Lakers also will prevent Phoenix from beating them in transition by playing at their deliberate pace.

-- Mark Medina

Follow the L.A. Times Lakers blog on Twitter: twitter.com/latmedina. E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com.

Photo: Lakers forward Ron Artest takes part in drills during a team practice session at the Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo on Wednesday. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

Lakers-Jazz playoff predictions

Mark Heisler, L.A. Times NBA columnist

Prediction: "Lakers if Kobe averages 25. Jazz if he's 20 or below. Seven-game series if he's 20-24."

Mike Bresnahan, L.A. Times Lakers beat reporter

Pick: Lakers in five.

Reason: "The fact the Lakers beat the Jazz the last two years in the playoffs and went 3-1 against them this season (including a "W" in Utah without Bynum and Kobe) makes this any easy pick."

Broderick Turner, L.A. Times Lakers beat reporter

Pick: Lakers in six

Reason: The Lakers are clearly better than the Jazz. The Jazz has a Hall-of-Fame Coach in Jerry Sloan and a talented guard in Deron Williams. That should be good enough to get two victories.

Mark Medina, L.A. Times Lakers blogger

Pick: Lakers in five

Reason: The Lakers may have their fair share of injuries, but so does the Jazz. Utah may have been able to absorb them against Denver, but it will be too much to overcome against the Lakers.

--Mark Medina

Follow the L.A. Times Lakers blog on Twitter. E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Predictions for Lakers-Thunder series

Mark Heisler, L.A. Times NBA columnist

Prediction: Lakers in five.

Outlook: If they can't take this team out in six, I don't like their chances of getting out of the West.

Mike Bresnahan, L.A. Times Lakers reporter

Prediction: Lakers in six.

Outlook:You would think that the top-seeded team in the West would be done in four or five with No. 8. But I haven't seen enough consistency from the Lakers in the last six or seven weeks to say anything less than six games.

Broderick Turner, L.A. Times Lakers reporter

Prediction: Lakers in six.

Outlook: I think the Lakers have too much experience against an inexperienced young team like Oklahoma City. But the Thunder has just enough athletes to get two wins.

Mark Medina, L.A. Times Lakers blogger

Prediction: Lakers in five.

Outlook: The Lakers' experience will be too much for the inexperienced Thunder. Oklahoma City's youth and speed may make for some tight contests, but the Thunder is only 12-15 in games decided by five points or fewer.

--Mark Medina

Follow the L.A. Times Lakers blog on Twitter. E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

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