Last night the Lakers proved who was in charge of the Pacific Division, tonight they will attempt to put their name on the top of the Western Conference. Los Angeles travels to Denver in a rematch from last year’s Western Conference Finals, a series that Denver pushed to six games before being eliminated by the Lakers. This is their first meeting of the new season, and both teams want this win, bad. Denver, still bitter from the WCF, would love to knock off the Lakers and claim themselves the team to beat in the west, but Kobe and the gang will have something to say about that. If the Lakers are able to win tonight, it will be their seventh consecutive win, and without question their biggest of the season thus far. Thursday night’s dismantling of the Suns was important, but without a positive follow up performance tonight in Denver it will not mean much. Here are a few keys to tonight’s conference finals rematch:
- Kobe vs. Carmelo: Both are early season MVP contenders, and both are the hands down leaders of their team. With Gasol still nursing his hamstring, it may come down to Bryant and Anthony to decide the game at the end. Whoever is able to get more support from their teammates, however, is going to have a better chance of taking home the W.
- Where’s all the oxygen? The Lakers are coming off a game late last night against the high speed Suns, so it will be very interesting to see if the elevation and lack of rest will come into play for Los Angeles tonight. Denver will most certainly be more rested, but the Lakers have the talent and desire to take this game anyways. However, if Los Angeles shows signs of fatigue early it may be a long night for the Lakers.
- Big Bad Bynum: Andrew had a solid game last night against Phoenix, but Denver has a much tougher low post defense than the Suns. If Bynum is able to establish himself early and often in this game it will take a lot of the pressure off Bryant and allow the Lakers to spread the floor. The outcome of tonight’s game will depend greatly on the battle of the bigs in the front court.
Tonight should definitely be an entertaining game, and it is certainly a meaningful one for both opponents. It is fair to say that the winner of this game may be considered the early front runner in the Western Conference, but any real fan knows championships aren’t decided in November. Nevertheless, a victory tonight would definitely give the Lakers plenty of confidence as they get deeper into the season.
Los Angeles Lakers @ Denver Nuggets
Friday, November 13, 2009
Pepsi Center, Denver, Colorado
Tip-off: 7:30 PST
TV: KCAL, ESPN
Radio: 710 ESPN (NEW Home of the Los Angeles Lakers)