Key Reserves: G Willie Green, F/C Jason Smith, G Jarrett Jack
Injuries: Aaron Gray (day-to-day), David West
Today we’re going to skip the pleasantries and get straight into it. This is the playoffs! There’s no time to sit back and wait for the other team to play poorly. Winners seize victory from their opponent with aggression and poise. Here’s what the Lakers need to do to take game 2 from the Hornets.
Keys to Lakers Victory:
Defense: It’s funny how it always comes back to the big “D” word. In game one the Lakers allowed the Hornets to shoot 59% in the first half and 51% for the game. That is downright deplorable and the Lakers can’t expect to win a championship when they’re playing such porous defense. The Lakers’ focus should be:
1) Limit Chris Paul – CP3 is a beast and sometimes there is nothing you can do when a player of his caliber gets going. However, the Lakers didn’t really challenge CP3 for much of the game. He was allowed to run rampant and posted 33 points and 14 assists. Fisher is clearly outmatched and even though he put in great effort, he wasn’t able to stop CP3 at all. I’d like to see Kobe guard CP3 and use his length to bother him.
2) Defend the Bench Players – The Hornet’s bench shot 72.7% from the field in game one. WHAT THE HELL?!? There’s no way to sugar coat it. It’s not a matter of the Hornet’s bench being very good. The Lakers need to take the Hornets bench seriously and defend them. Aaron Gray should not be able to shoot 5 of 5 and score 12 points on the likes of Bynum and Gasol.
Improved Bench Play: The Lakers bench used to be one of the team’s strongest assets but they need to find their identity and get their heads back in the game. Outside of Odom, the bench has been play has been lackadaisical and uninspiring. If the Killer Bees will need to make a resurgence if the Lakers hope to make a deep run into the playoffs. Steve Blake is expected to return to the lineup tonight and will give the bench a boost.
One last thing: Will the Real Pau Please Stand up? I fully expect Gasol to rise to the occasion and destroy the Hornets frontline tonight.
Lakers’ Injuries: Devin Ebanks
Win an Autographed Ron Artest Card from our friends at Panini America, the official trading card of the NBA. We’re going to be doing these kind of giveaways before every game in the Playoffs, so make sure you check back often on game days to get first crack at predictions. All you have to do is:
1) Be the first person on our blog, facebook or twitter to predict the Lakers field goal percentage, Lakers free throw percentage and point total for both teams for Game 1 of the 1st Round NBA Playoff matchup between the Lakers and Hornets today at 12:30p.
2) Please note that the field goal percentage and free throw percentage are in 3 digit format, so 2 digit predictions will not be counted. The official percentages will be used from yahoo sports.
3) All Predictions must be entered by the end of the 1st quarter. All predictions after, will automatically be disqualified.
4) Winners will be announced in our Post Game Instant Recap of Game 1 vs. the Hornets. Follow us on Twitter.com/LakersNation for Play by Play of the Game