Heading into this first-round series with the Denver Nuggets, the Los Angeles Lakers were prepared for whatever Nuggets’ coach George Karl was going to throw at them. In the first two games, the Lakers dominated the Nuggets and made it appear that a sweep was on the horizon with Denver in a 2-0 hole.
Unfortunately for the Lakers, the first two games were too good to be true as they were unable to reclaim that dominant form throughout the next four games. Luckily, Los Angeles was able to bounce back from a Game 3 loss with a win in Game 4, but with two consecutive losses after that, Kobe Bryant and company have been forced to a pivotal Game 7.
The one player on the Nuggets squad that has posed the biggest problem for the Lakers over the past four games has been up-and-coming point guard Ty Lawson. Despite some bad performances in the first two games of the series, Lawson has redeemed himself as of late leading Denver to three wins in the last four games.
With lightening quick speed and the ability to hit the big shot, Lawson’s play for Denver has been a game changer. All season long Coach Karl has been looking for a player on the team to step up and become the leader. Lawson continues to prove over the course of this first-round series with the Lakers that he is that leader.
In Game 6, Lawson torched the Lakers with a game-high 32 points. With his ability to get the basket at will and lead this team in transition, the Lakers have had no answer for the rising star out of North Carolina. No matter who Lakers Coach Mike Brown has guarding Lawson, the results are the same with the floor general just dominating the competition.
Coming into Game 7 in Los Angeles, the Lakers main focus will be stopping the Nuggets in transition and containing Lawson. With forward Metta World Peace coming back from his seven-game suspension, the Lakers will get a big boost defensively. Whether or not the return of World Peace is enough to motivate this team and put the Lakers over the top in this winner-take-all showdown on Saturday remains to be seen.
If the Lakers can’t limit Lawson’s production out of the backcourt and in transition, it will be another long day for Los Angeles, as they may very well be knocked out of the NBA playoffs by a Nuggets squad that simply wants it more. The key to winning Game 7 will definitely be locking down Lawson and limiting the Nuggets’ transition points while establishing the inside game with Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol.
The formula for success is fairly simple for the Lakers on Saturday, but it is uncertain whether or not Bynum and Gasol will show up or if the Lakers defense will be able to contain a motivated Nuggets squad.