Nuggets Projected Starting Line-up:
PG: Chauncey Billups
SG: Arron Afflalo
SF: Carmelo Anthony
PF: Kenyon Martin
C: Nene Hilario
Key Reserves: Al Harrington, J.R. Smith, Ty Lawson
Injuries: Chris Andersen
Coming off a terrible defensive outing against the Mavs, the Lakers hope to play with focused intensity against the Nuggets.
Frontcourt: For the first time in months, Melo can finally rule out one team from his trade list: New Jersey. After the news that the “deal was off” Melo poured in 35 points and pulled down 7 boards against the Thunder. He’s a star who punishes opposing teams with his ability to score from just about everywhere on the court. Martin and Hilario are both finally healthy at the same time which gives the Nuggets their two frontcourt starters. Hilario is shooting an amazing 64.4% from the field – most of which come from dunks or lay-ins. To supplant the dunking of Hilario, Harrington provides long range fire power off the bench – he’s averaging 2.1 treys.
Backcourt: The Nuggets have a dynamic, deep backcourt with four players who could potentially start. Afflalo is a defensive specialist who has improved his three point shot significantly. He’s a heady player who doesn’t make very many mistakes. Billups is the floor general but could soon be supplanted by the speedy Ty Lawson. The fourth guard Smith is a streaky shooter who can get hot in a hurry. However, he’s prone to overshooting and making bone-headed mistakes on defense.
Keys to Lakers Victory:
The Nuggets are the highest scoring team in the league. If the Lakers don’t play defense, this game will quickly get out of hand. The Laker guards need to stick to the guards and keep their hands in the Nuggets’ players faces. They can’t afford to double team Melo and leave the other guards wide open. Against the Mavs, one thing that killed the Lakers was Kidd and Terry’s three point shooting. Often times they had wide open looks with five to seven feet of shooting room. The Lakers can’t play so complacently along the three point line against any respectable team and expect to win.
Can somebody please get Luke Walton a new pair of legs? I think his have expired. He looks like he’s moving in molasses. I’m hoping that Phil elects to take a chance on Ebanks – he can’t be any slower than Walton.
Defense wins championships and if the Lakers start playing some they should win tonight.
Laker Injuries: Theo Ratliff, Matt Barnes