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Golden Nuggets 05/18/2009

Posted by sportretort in Sports, Uncategorized.
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It’s the biggest event in Denver since…….well, since the Rockies run to the World Series two years ago.  Make no mistake about it.  Denver is a GREAT sports town.  And the Nuggets run to the NBA Western Conference Finals has the

Carmelo Anthony (15) and Kobe Bryant (24) provide the marquee matchup in the Western Conference Final.

Carmelo Anthony (15) and Kobe Bryant (24) provide the marquee matchup in the Western Conference Final.

 Denver fan base all worked up.  The fact that the opponent in the best of seven series is the hated Los Angeles Lakers only adds fuel to the fire.  Denver has always been, and will continue to be a Broncos town, but the city’s second oldest franchise is back on the national scene, making their first appearance in a conference finals in a quarter century.

If you look at this match up on paper, the Lakers will walk away with this series.  They are bigger along the front line boasting two 7  footers in Andrew Bynam and Pau Gasol.    Nary a Nugget over 6’11”.   In addition, the Lakers won 3 of the 4 regular season encounters.  Also, the Nuggets are 2-19 all time in the Staples Center against the Lakers ( including 0-2 in the playoffs) and LA has the home court advantage in the series.  The thing about the playoffs is that they are not played on paper.

The Houston Rockets did not have a prayer, on paper, against the Lakers in the last round.  And that was before they lost their star center Yao Ming to injury in the first game of the series.  All the Rockets did is extend the Lakers to 7 games.  They played with more heart and guts than the Lakers.  And they extended a series that should have been over in 5.  And they exposed the Lakers biggest problem.  The health of Andrew Bynam.  The big center had a knee injury towards the end of the regular season, and is not close to 100% physically.  The Rockets showed the Lakers are a much different team when Bynam struggles.

Then there are the Nuggets.  Everyone will point to the match up between Nugget Carmelo Anthony and Laker Kobe

The play of Nugget Billups  (7) is the key to the series

The play of Nugget Billups (7) is the key to the series

Bryant, both teammates on the USA Olympic team.  And these two are the star among stars on their teams.  I feel, however, that this series will turn on 3 things.  First, the Nuggets are playing defense at a higher level than they have in years, and that must continue.  The Lakers are 7-0 in this years playoffs when scoring 100 points or more, and 1-4 when they fail to reach the century mark.  The Nuggets have held their playoff opponents under 100 points in six of their ten playoff games.  The Nuggets must continue to play good D.  Second,  the Nuggets must continue their hot 3 point shooting.  They hit a sizzling 37.1% from behind the line during the regular season.  They have stepped that up to 42.9% during the first two playoff rounds.  Third, the x-factor in this series will be the leadership of Chauncey Billups.  The Nuggets have not had a floor leader like this during their last four failed playoff appearances.  Billups in the first two rounds of the playoffs has averaged 22.1 points per game, is 66 0f 69 from the free throw line and,  most importantly, has dished out 73 assists while committing only 17 turn overs.

Make mine Nuggets in 6.