Apr 13, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum (17) dunks the ball as Denver Nuggets center JaVale McGee (34) defends at the Staples Center. The Lakers defeated the Nuggets 103-97. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE
Tomorrow afternoon the Lakers begin the title chase against the Denver Nuggets. By most accounts, the Lakers should have the edge in the series, and even beyond. The Lakers bring three all star caliber players while the Nuggets bring B-level players 10 deep. This should be an easy series right? Stars come out on top in the playoffs. But what if the key to this series belonged to one of the most bone headed, wrong direction running, hilariously terrible centers in Javale McGee? Well, if past matchups tell us anything, he will be important:
Bynum's been dominant when Faried, Mozgov and Koufos have been on the court this season, according to NBA.com's metrics. Ditto for Gasol's time against Faried and Koufos; while his rebounding and assist numbers are lower with Mozgov on the floor, Pau's still +9-per-36 when he's out there.
The outlier here, interestingly enough, is McGee, who seems to have given both Bynum and Gasol trouble this year. While Bynum scored on McGee pretty much at will in their two meetings, McGee gave even better than he got, outperforming Bynum by just under seven points per 36 minutes. Likewise, Gasol's scoring, assist and plus-minus numbers were all down when McGee was on the court. It's not surprising that McGee would be a wild card; what is surprising is that it might actually be for a positive reason.
Hey, it's been a wierd season. Nothing would surprise me anymore. Javale McGee for Finals MVP? It is time for Andrew Bynum to impose his will in this series. Let's hope his walking while everyone else is running, three pointer shooting, wrestling teammates for the ball during the game routine is done and over with. The playoffs are where your legacy is forged. Dominate in the playoffs, and all is forgiven. Let Javale McGee beast on you and we make a first round exit? You won't live it down for the rest of your career.
As Lakers fans, we rarely give credit to Mike Brown, but yet, here we are, after one of the most bizarre, drama filled seasons in recent memory, and we've finished third in the west. Here's what Mike Brown had to say about the regular season:
"For as short as the season was, with no training camp or practices, I feel good where our team is sitting," Brown said. "I thought our guys did a nice job of trying to learn whatever we were throwing out to them initially.
"I think our guys have done a marvelous job of finishing third in the West when we could have easily finished sixth, seven, eighth or whatever and not thought twice about it because of all the changes we went through," Brown said.
"The (offensive) foundation is pretty much the same, but we've tweaked it here and there. We've also tweaked some of our half-court (plays) to some of our guys' strengths now that we know what our guys' strengths are."