Lakers vs. Nuggets Pre-Game Report: The All Important Swing Game

The Lakers take a 2-0 game lead into Denver on Friday night. During the season the Lakers struggled on the road, posting a sub par 15-18 record. They will need to bring their A-game if they hope to beat the Nuggets in the all important swing game. This will surely be the toughest game so far, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Nuggets come out firing on all cylinders. The Lakers did what they were supposed to do and held serve on their home turf. The true test begins tonight. Can the Lakers continue their recent success and steal a game on the road?

Keys to Lakers’ Victory
Defend the Fast Break – Denver is not a good half-court offense team; they get many easy points in transition. In Game 2, the Nuggets tallied 30 fastbreak points. As soon as the Nuggets rebounded a Laker miss, they would have two to three guys already streaking past half court. On one play, Corey Brewer threw up a wild shot while spinning in the air, anticipating that one of his teammates would get the put-back. The Lakers need to execute their half-court offense and run back as soon as the Nuggets secure the rebound. If the Lakers can limit Denver’s transition offense, the Nuggets will be hard pressed to score more than 85 points.

Dominate the Boards – Besides scoring in transition, another important part of Denver’s offense depends on put-backs. The Nuggets rely on their speed and athleticism to out-hustle slower and older teams like the Lakers. It was no surprise then, that a pain point in Game 2 was defensive rebounding. The Nuggets had 19 offensive boards and 26 second chance points. Faried accounted for six offensive boards of his own and most of them were easy put backs. The Lakers bigs simply need to do a better job of boxing out and be sure to put a body on Mozgov, McGee and Faried.

Balanced Offensive Attack – Kobe put on a show in Game 2 with an array of step backs and spin moves. He reached 38 points and was very efficient from the field (51.7 percent). Kobe will always be able to do his thing, but the eye opener was that three other players reached double digits for the Lakers. Bynum was dominating the paint down low, Gasol was nailing his mid range jumper and Sessions tore up the lane with his speed. The Lakers should continue to share the ball and create easy opportunities for one another. The beauty about the Lakers offense is that there is so much variety. The Nuggets can focus on taking away one part of the offense, but they won’t be able to completely stop the Lakers as long as they continue to utilize all the weapons in their arsenal.

Los Angeles Lakers (2-0) at Denver Nuggets (0-2)
7:30 PM PST, May 4, 2012
Pepsi Center, Denver, CO
TV: ESPN
Radio: 710 AM (English), 1330 AM (Spanish)

Nuggets Projected Starting Line-Up:
PG: Ty Lawson
SG: Arron Afflalo
SF: Danilo Gallinari
PF: Kenneth Faried
C: Kosta Koufos

Key Reserves: G Andre Miller, F Corey Brewer, PF Al Harrington, C JaVale McGee

Viewing Party – ESPN Zone will be hosting a viewing party for members of Lakers Nation. There will be special deals on food and drinks, and you will have the opportunity to watch Game 3 with dozens of other excited Laker fans.

-Where: ESPN Zone’s main screening room.
-When: During Friday night’s Game 3 between the Lakers and Nuggets.
-Drink specials: PBR/Bud/Bud Lite pitchers – $7.50 / pints $2.50
-Complimentary snacks: Chips & salsa.

Make sure you head over to the ESPN Zone at L.A. Live to watch the Lakers and Nuggets battle in Game 3.

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