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Game 6 Preview — The View from Denver...

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On Sunday, three evenings hence, the Lakers will either be done for the year or moving on to the Really Big Circus.

This is, one might argue, the last peaceful moment of the second season for them.

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I think I will avail myself of the opportunity of passing along what I have learned over the last few weeks about sports on the internet in general and the mechanics of doing a column like "The View" in particular, in the hope that such a brief debriefing will be of some interest and utility.

This might be a little bit boring to many, but I just thought it would be helpful to have a place to point if other sites take a shining to establishing similar "beat" reports.

The general theory behind "The View" is that there is as much (or more) to be learned about one's own team from the journalism of forthcoming and recent opponents as there is from the usual "friendly" suspects. A range of views, including mild dissent and outright contradiction, make for a fuller picture. Moreover, one can learn a great deal about the character and strategy of the opponent by reading their press. After immersing oneself in the thinking of the opponent, one views the game in a different way — really seeing both teams for the first time.

The key is to figure out where the information is located out there. One has limited time and the number of potential sources seems vast. Where does one go to mine the stuff?

(More stuff after the jump...)

There seem to be five basic kinds of basketball websites dedicated to the doings of a given team: Team blogs, Mainstream Media blogs, Participant blogs, Content-Driven blogs,  and Message Boards. There are one or more examples of each of these types of digital publicatons dedicated to every team, albeit in different proportions.

Team Blogs: Every team has its own website. These are large and pretty and they want to sell you tickets and souvenirs and stuff. If you are trying to collect breaking information, however, don't waste your time.

Mainstream Media Blogs: Every major city has at least one newspaper, with its beat reporters that follow the team on the road and its columnists that prognosticate and pontificate from the dubious comfort of their cubicle. These publications and the websites associated with them churn out a constant stream of content, which usually appears on the net in the middle of the night — figure 1:00 or 2:00 AM for Western Conference teams. In other words, night owls can get a really good jump on the next day's "post-game" column before they go to bed if they start writing the intro and milking the MSM sites.

There are usually 1 or 2 big stories featured prominently on the website of each newspaper, so obvious that a blind hamster could find them. I have discovered there are usually several others that can be located with a little digging, often disguised as "team blogs." This takes time, so one should plan on investing a good 15-30 minutes prowling around. These sometimes appear a little later in the news cycle, mid-morning after a game, so it is good to revisit the MSM sites at least once after the initial collecting run has been made. 

Participant Blogs: The odd player or broadcaster kills time as a blogger. These are usually very simplistic, irrelevant, and infrequently updated. I dodge these entirely myself; the really good ones (such as that of Portland Trailblazer TV play-by-play man  Mike Barrett) are rare; the vast majority aren't apt to tell you much of anything about what happened in the last game or what will happen in the next.

Content-Driven Blogs: Silver Screen & Roll is an example of what I call a "Content-Driven Blog" — a digital publication dedicated to a specific team relying upon original writing and analysis for its primary content. These blogs are what make the world go round if one is trying to assemble an interesting compilation of "opposition" excerpts and links. The people behind Content-Driven Blogs, and the readers who contribute to them, tend to be opinionated and outspoken and to have definite views about most anything which happened in the last game or might happen in the next. If one puts enough of these comments and critiques together, one starts to see the big picture.

The drawback is that since these are generally produced by hobbyists rather than professionals, these Content-Driven Blogs publish their stuff much later than the websites of the MSM — midmorning after a game or even later. Furthermore, the URLs of these sites are hard to locate on the fly. Each team has several fan-sites dedicated to them, I think it is safe to say, but discovering the good ones takes a while. Get started early. I usually start with the SBNation team blog and start clicking links and then clicking the links off those links. Running a Google search for "Dallas Maverick blogs" or whatever is also useful.

Your browser "favorites" bar is your friend — I've got a whole hierarchy of folders going up: NBA > CONFERENCE >TEAM. If one is serious about doing a "beat" like this for an 82 game season, I can not advocate strongly enough that one does likewise. Find the links, file them logically, and save them. I'm already starting to assemble links for next season...

Message Boards: Every team has one or more message boards which its fans have established. They say that 95% of all art is crap — with message boards the chaff-to-wheat ratio is even higher. Much higher. Still, I've found it useful to figure out the main message boards of the three teams the Lakers have faced during these playoffs and to work the winnow, trying to glean enough grain to make a couple cookies. I'm not sure the exercise is worth the time investment, but there is a certain amount of perverse joy to be gained by listening to the wailings of the opposition's most stupid fans. Which is not to say that there is no wisdom to be found on message boards — just precious little, given how much stupidity flies.

As an aside, I think that one reason that Laker fans are regarded as particularly dumb NBA followers by fans of other teams around the league relates to the fact that Laker fan-sites been heavily skewed to Message Boards and away from Content-Driven Sites. While I have not explored the resources of every team yet, it seems that LAL leads the NBA in Message Boards. By way of contrast, SS&R is now about one month old. There are a few really good Laker Content-Driven Sites, but they are eclipsed by the proliferation of Message Boards.

Also to be considered are YouTube links, which seem to sprout like mushrooms after every big game.

Well, that's about all I have to say this morning. Much of it is self-evident, I'm sure, but it might save someone a step or two if they decide to institute a similar "beat" for their site next season. You never know...

And now, without further ado, your Denver links'n'leads:

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(1)

Lakers Look to End Series Tonight: Stepping up to the plate

by Anthony Cotton, Denver Post

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. - Minutes before the start of Game 5 of the Western Conference finals, Nuggets coach George Karl spoke of the game as a "free swing" for his team. Win, he said, and Denver would have the opportunity to end the best-of-seven series against the Los Angeles Lakers on its home floor.

However, he continued, should the Lakers win Wednesday night, the opposite scenario would apply, that L.A. would be getting the free swing tonight in Game 6 at the Pepsi Center with the cushion of an elimination game at the Staples Center.

Which means instead of just introducing the starting lineups, the public address announcer could just as easily intone, "Ladies and gentlemen, now batting for Los Angeles, Kobe Bryant, Derek Fisher and Lamar Odom."

"That's a different philosophy," Bryant said Thursday after the Lakers' practice. "I don't really believe in free swings — but if you take one, you better make sure you make contact."

That, in essence, is how Los Angeles is viewing tonight's game - an opportunity to knock the Nuggets out of the park. And in a series where potential disaster is only a referee's whistle away, the Lakers definitely want to avoid the uncertainty of a Game 7 — even if its on their home floor.

"In the playoffs, the idea is to win the game that's before you, you don't really look to, or count on, what's to come after that," Fisher said. "It's almost like Game 7 is there because of the schedule, but it really doesn't exist.

"We need to go out and play (tonight) as if it's the only game left to play." *  *  *

 

(2)

Aching Head

by Chris Dempsey, Denver Post

* * *
If it's not one ailment, it's another for forward Carmelo Anthony. He suffered a migraine Thursday and didn't meet with the media. Anthony has gotten more beaten up as the series has progressed. He had a stomach virus before Game 4 and has dealt with a sore right ankle.

 

(3)

Odom's Output Seen as a Bonus

by Anthony Cotton, Denver Post

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. - Kobe Bryant visibly cringed Thursday when asked about the "knot" on the back of Los Angeles Lakers teammate Lamar Odom.

"Have you seen it?" Bryant asked a group of reporters. "It looks like he's got a volleyball stuck inside there."

Originally injured in the semifinal series against Houston, Odom had struggled against the Nuggets in the conference finals. That was until Game 5. Odom, who was averaging just 7.5 points and shooting 34 percent from the field entering the game, may have been the most dynamic player on the floor, scoring 19 points while adding 14 rebounds, four blocked shots and three assists.

Now, all anyone in L.A. wants is for Odom to do it again tonight in Game 6. But Bryant says that while that kind of output is welcome, it likely won't happen every game.

"I think a lot of people have sat back and been waiting for him to become a 25-point, 10-rebound guy, but that's not what we need him to do," Bryant said. "That's not what his role is. That night he had in Game 5, he did coming off the bench — how many guys coming off the bench get those kinds of numbers? Having a guy like him get that is a bonus." * * *

 

(4)

Refs Raise Frustration for Nuggets, Lakers: Uneven officiating causes concerns for both teams

by Chris Dempsey, Denver Post

MARINA DEL REY, Calif. - Carmelo Anthony vs. Kobe Bryant started as the dominant story line of the Western Conference finals. But the talk now has faded into a near-daily conversation about referees, calls made, call not made and the effect it has had on the Nuggets and Lakers.

The officials are becoming the story in a league that likes to keep that aspect as quiet as possible. Lakers coach Phil Jackson and the organization were fined $25,000 each Tuesday after complaining about a sizable discrepancy of fouls in Game 4.

The Nuggets shot back a bit Wednesday after Game 5, when they were on the wrong side of the foul and free-throw advantage. The officials, whose job is to call a game with players who are increasingly bigger, stronger, quicker and more athletic, are in the middle. The personal-foul call is arguably the most subjective infraction in all of sports, and the NBA's referees are fighting perceptions that certain players get more calls than others and get special treatment, or certain teams receive favoritism.

Despite some controversy and a ton of angst in both conference finals series, the league is keeping its normal stance of not commenting on officiating. The Nuggets are trying to move past it and just play basketball, but sometimes it's been too difficult to ignore.

"When you get hit in the back of the head, knocked on your ass, we're human beings," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "We react to the people of authority. Referees are the ones that have the authority that control the game the way they want to control it.

"I don't think we lost the game because of the officiating. I don't think I ever said that. It's just that there's a frustration when you're playing at this stage on this level of intensity. It's just hard. When you're a competitor and you lose, you feel pain. And then you feel anger because of some of the things that you don't have control over." * * *

 

(5)

Denver, Call Out the Reserves

by Woody Paige, Denver Post

Call out, call out, call out the Nuggets' reserves.

Attention, J.R., L.K., A.C. and The Birdman of Razzmatazz:

In order for the Nuggets to defeat the Lakers in Games 6 and 7, you there, you four reservists, can make the difference.

Simple as that.

Hard as all get-out.

In three of the five Western Conference finals games, the winning team's bench has finished with the higher total combination of points, assists and rebounds. L.A. had a slight advantage in the three critical categories in Game 2, but the Nuggets managed a win. In Game 3, Denver's bench had the edge, but the Lakers won.

Want motivation, you four guys?

The first four Lakers off the bench get paid $24 million. You guys have contracts adding up to a measly $8.5 million.

They make almost three times as much as you. You four make $1.5 million less, combined, than the Lakers' coach. You make less for a full regular-season and postseason than Jack Nicholson did for "The Bucket List." The wife of one Laker wears jewelry to a game that costs more than it costs for the Nuggets to pay you.

You are chump change, Jackson's fines, Gasol's tips, Kobe's gas money. * * *

 

(6)

Shooting, Inside "D" Get Nuggets' Attention

by Benjamin Hochman, Denver Post

MARINA DEL REY, Calif. - After Thursday's team meal-and-film session, the Nuggets left the Ritz-Carlton to catch a 1 p.m. flight to Denver when a member of the team's traveling party joked about leaving behind some luggage.

Indeed, the plan is to return to the Ritz on Saturday, in preparation for a Game 7 on Sunday against the Lakers. * * *

"You have to play every game as if it's Game 7," said Denver's Chauncey Billups, who knows a thing or two about "must-win" games. This is the Nuggets' first such postseason encounter with potential elimination.

Billups said Thursday that "every game's different" - and from J.R. Smith to Lamar Odom, fans have seen roller-coaster contributions from both teams in a series in which neither team has won back-to-back games.

One big reason for the Nuggets' inconsistency is their erratic shooting. Entering this series, the Nuggets were the hottest 3-ball shooting team in the playoffs. Of late, they're shooting like a team of Gheorghe Muresans, having made 7-of-24 from beyond the arc in each of the past two games (29.2 percent). That's actually far better than their Game 3 showing (5-for-27, 18.5 percent).

Heading into tonight's Game 6, the Nuggets know they must space the floor better to get more open looks from long range. As coach George Karl explained, that comes from "executing screening a little better." * * *

 

(7)

Game 6, Preview: Nuggets vs. Lakers: Nuggets face their first elimination game

by Nate Timmons, Pickaxe and Roll

The Nuggets have played their fair share of games in which they've had the opportunity to send their opponent packing. The Nuggets are actually 2-1 this post-season in games in which they had the chance to close-out.

Tonight the Nuggets will face an all too familiar game in which, if they lose, their season will come to an end. In the Melo-era (starting in the 2004 post-season) the Nuggets record when they face elimination is 0-5. * * *

Here are my CB7 inspired Keys to Game 6 for the Nuggets:

1. Attack the Rack with purpose. Too many times the Nuggets will go to the hoop looking to draw the foul first and make the actual shot second. Denver must flip this around and look to make the shot first as stopping a man on a mission will typically result in a foul or like in Game 4 the Lakers may not even contest strong drives to the hoop.

2. Take care of the ball. In the Nuggets two wins they've averaged 10 turnovers a game (just 6 in Game 4), but in Denver's three losses they've averaged 13.3 turnovers. * * *

3. Win the rebounding battle. Game 4 was a pretty crazy offensive rebounding performance from the Nuggets. Denver grabbed 20 rebounds or 39.2% of the rebounds on the Lakers defensive end. But Denver has been doing a great job getting on the offensive glass as their athleticism and effort has been pretty good. Here are the percentages of Denver getting an offensive rebound on the Lakers defensive end:

  • Game 1: 19.4% (pretty lousy and the Nuggets lost)
  • Game 2: 31.8% (pretty good and Denver won)
  • Game 3: 23.9% (not great, but Denver collected 11 offensive boards)
  • Game 4: 39.2% (stellar!)
  • Game 5: 30.4% (pretty nice effort with 14 offensive boards, but a loss) * * *

On the defensive end, the Nuggets have grabbed the following percentages of rebounds on their end:

  • Game 1: 63.8%
  • Game 2: 68.2%
  • Game 3: 80.0%
  • Game 4: 80.8%
  • Game 5: 74.3% * * *

4. Move the ball on offense. The Nuggets turned in their lowest assist total of the series in Game 5 with 17 team assists. The Nuggets like to make the difficult pass and that can lead from an assist to a turnover in a heartbeat. They need to play smart tonight and that starts with Chauncey Billups. * * *

5. Take the smart shot. It's tough to say when guys should shoot the ball or not. As my roommates will tell you ... I often cringe at some shots and when they go in I get called an idiot because the shot ... went in (and that's the point in basketball right). My point is usually that even though the shot went in that it's a low percentage shot. And three point shots are lower percentage shots than shots in the paint. Even if the Nuggets are open on the three-point line ... they must decide if it's the best shot to take. * * *

6. Stop whining Nene. I'm sick of seeing the Big Brazilian complain after every call. Like I've heard bantered about ... Nene has entered the "Boy who cried Wolf" territory. When you complain after every call then why should the refs listen to you at all? But when you complain and pick your spots then you may start to get some credibility to your argument. Nene's technical foul in Game 5 could not of come at a worse time with Denver down 5 (81-76). Nene has to put the team above himself.

7. Just win baby. Leave it all on the floor tonight. I want to see Denver go all out tonight. Dive for loose balls, stay in front of your man, go after every missed shot on both ends of the floor, don't allow any uncontested shots ... especially dunks, play smart basketball, take the harder path to the hoop instead of settling for outside shots, and just win this game. * * *

 

(8)

Tonight: dial down those Kobe double teams

posted by "CraftyB" to Pickaxe and Roll

Not to say we shouldn't ever double, but in Game 5 we went completely overboard, choosing our spots poorly and letting Lakers not named Pau Gasol get on track for the first time in the series, giving them looks so ridiculously wide open their shots couldn't help but drop.

Sure, Kobe had been torching us for 30+ in the first four games, but we either won or had chances to win all of them. Game 5 was the first time the Lakers experienced real, team-wide success against our D, and a lot of that seemed the result of our decision to move away from the defensive philosophy that got us here, one that used double-teams only as a last resort.

Bottom line? if Kobe takes us down with a game for the ages, I can live with that. What I can't live with is scrubs like Brown, Farmar and Vujacic slowly bleeding us out with uncontested three's and lay-ups.

Let's hope we've made the adjustments necessary to send this thing back to L.A. for one last shot. GO NUGGETS!!!

 

(9)

A Call to Arms (Nuggets/Lakers Game 6 Preview)

by Andrew, Denver Stiffs

I don't have it in me to write another column begging Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith to take the ball to the rack, or for Nene to finish strong around the basket, or for Chauncey Billups to take care of the ball, or for George Karl to work the refs and use his timeouts throughout the game. We know how the Nuggets can and should beat the Lakers, and there's nothing more I can say about it that the Nuggets (in theory) don't already know themselves.

Instead of sounding like a broken record, I've decided to be more proactive and solicit some much needed outside help. Because while most non-NBA fans, Lakers fans, ESPN/ABC, the NBA, Nike, Vitamin Water and god only knows who else are desperately rooting for the Lakers to get to the NBA Finals, I strongly believe that true NBA fans — especially those in midsize or small Western Conference markets like Denver — want the Nuggets to win. A lot of them just don't know it yet.

With that said, below is the email I just sent to the bloggers and fans of teams who hate the Lakers as much or more than we do. I hope to rally as many true NBA fans as possible behind the Nuggets noble cause of appearing in their first ever NBA Finals... * * *

[blah blah blah blah blah]

But if we can put our past disputes behind us I know we can unify around one thing: our mutual hatred of the Lakers and the NBA's insistence on getting them into the NBA Finals.

[blah blah blah blah blah] *  *  *

 

(10)

Hyperbaric Isolation Room

posted by "Newsman35" to Nuggets Talk message board

I wish they could put the team in a hyperbaric isolation room until game time so they could just focus on just taking care of business, get off the hype, the kudos, etc.

I still cant believe how quickly the Nugs lost nene, and how weak smith was in game 5. if either of them were on, the outcome would be different.

We really need more consistency. And we need to stop worrying about fouls and stupid things, and focus on the things we can control like our poor shot selection, posting up, driving the lane, and finishing up.

 

(11)

Refs

posted by "Crounsa810" to Nuggets Talk message board

Well, f**k. It's gonna be a very long night, and a very hard fought game.

Look at our refs:

Mike Callahan
Mark Wunderlich

annnnndddddd.............

JOEY CRAWFORD

f**k

Our record in the last ten games with Crawford reffing has been 3-7.

LA is 7-3.

Wunderlich has us at 8-2, but LA at 9-1.

Callahan has us 7-3, with LA at 5-5. I like Callahan. In the games this season that he has reffed, they've been blowout wins when they were wins.

 

** ADDENDA **

(12)

2009 Western Conference Finals Game 6: Denver Nuggets vs. Los Angeles Lakers

by Jeremy, Roundball Mining Co.

This is it. I have had a lot of people ask me if I think the Denver Nuggets can win a game seven from the Staples Center. While I do not love their chances of winning that game, they first have to earn the right to play a game seven by beating the Los Angeles Lakers in game six at the Pepsi Center.

As George Karl said today there are not many adjustments to make and any alteration is bound to be a slight one. At this point both teams know each other inside and out. It comes down to execution.

Denver will be looking for bounce back games from players like Chauncey Billups, J.R. Smith and Nene while the Lakers will be hoping they can get another exceptional effort from Lamar Odom.

A few minor changes that I would like to see is better execution of the trap the Nuggets like to spring on the sideline off the screen and roll. The two trapping players need to smother the ball handler. In game five they allowed themselves to be spread out and provided too much room to locate an open teammate. Also, the positioning needs to be better from the other three players to cut off any pass that can lead to an immediate scoring opportunity. * * *

 

(13)

Karl Making Few Adjustments for Nuggets

by Benjamin Hochman, Denver Post

For just the second time in Nuggets NBA history, the team will play a Game 6 in the Western Conference Finals, tonight against the Lakers at Pepsi Center.

The first was May 17, 1978, and Seattle's "Downtown" Freddie Brown scored 26 points, leading the SuperSonics past Denver and into the NBA Finals.

The Lakers lead the Nuggets 3-2 in the series. At the arena this morning for shootaround, coach George Karl said the Nuggets worked on tweaking a couple key situations.

"The baseline cut on the post-catch, that hurt us. They had a pick-and-roll situation that I thought needed to be more precise. So you do 3-4 defensive things and 3-4 offensive adjustments.

"But I think we're at a stage where anybody in that locker room could write a 5-6 page thesis on the Lakers, and anybody in the Laker locker room could write 5-6 pages on the Nuggets. But the energy of the crowd and the confidence our team has in this building, all those things are exciting."

Karl said finding the open player on offense is "at the top of the list," because in previous games, notably the Game 5 loss in Los Angeles, the Nuggets "stubbed our toe with shot-selection or lack of ball movement, and we get a little frustrated." * * *

 

(14)

Will Nuggets add to a winning history?

by Tom Noel, Denver Post

As the Nuggets shine in the NBA playoffs, can you remember the original Denver Nuggets? They captured the 1939 national basketball championship and first put Denver on the map as a sports-crazy town.

Basketball's inventor, James Naismith, was physical education director of the Denver YMCA shortly after he created the game in 1891. Naismith wanted a team sport that people could play indoors. He had no idea how quickly basketball would bounce into popularity as folks rigged up bushel baskets, waste baskets and most any kind of baskets and started shooting.

In 1932, Denver first fielded a team in the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU), a national organization that urged local companies to sponsor teams and held an annual tournament. The Denver Piggly Wigglys, affectionately known as the Pigs, were sponsored by the grocery chain of that name. The Pigs played in the old Auditorium (now elegantly reincarnated as the Ellie Caulkins Opera House).

By offering free use of the Auditorium, Denver captured the 1935 AAU national championship tournament.

That year, the team's name was changed to the Denver Safeways after that grocery chain bought Piggly Wiggly. When Safeway dropped sponsorship in 1938, crushed fans feared losing both the team and the AAU tournament. Sports promoters hastily organized the Denver Nuggets, but failed to find an exclusive sponsor. Team backers secured employment for individual players with local sponsors such as the Brown Palace Hotel (whose logo would look great on Chauncey or Carmelo).

The Auditorium broke all attendance records with the ongoing national championship. The turnaway crowds gave Denver its original claim to fame as a sports town, according to Metropolitan State College of Denver history professor Dolph Grundman.* * *

 

The Bottom Line:

1. The Nuggets' season is on the line. While they are at home, we are not assuming this victory. It will be a hard, closely fought game.

2. Nuggets need JR and Nene to really show up. Chauncey and Melo are givens, but they need help to win.

3. Kobe is going to score his points. The obsessive double-teaming backfired in Game 5 and that needs to be relaxed some to keep the Lakers' more marginal players marginalized.