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Lakers vs. Nuggets in Round 1; Rose, Shumpert Both Tear ACLs, Out For Playoffs

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In a highly-anticipated matchup, the Los Angeles Lakers face their first-round opponent, the Denver Nuggets, today at 12:30 PDT on ABC.The Lakers won the season series against the Nuggets 3-1, and are favored to win this playoff series in either 5 or 6 games, but Denver isn't too worried, and figure they can beat the Lakers with speed. The Lakers, on the other hand, have the practically unbeatable Andrew Bynum, the immovable force in the middle. Bynum tells us he's ready now that the playoffs are starting.

"We’re well aware we need to come out and make a statement in the first game," Bynum said to O.C. Register reporter Kevin Ding.

"Season’s over. It’s the post-season. I’m ready for everything."

Despite the season-long talk of him being old and washed up, Kobe Bryant is feeling refreshed and rejuvenated coming into the playoffs, but George Karl and the Nuggets are looking to take all that good feeling away from him and the rest of the Lakers. Their weapon of choice is Arron Afflalo, nicknamed The Rattlesnake by his teammates.

"Have you ever seen a black mamba?" Karl said. "It's not a very big snake. It's not a very impressive snake. The rattlesnake is more impressive. I don't think you want to get bit by either one, but I know you don't want to get bit by the black mamba."

"They have to develop more teamness in this playoffs to win a championship," Karl said of the Lakers, "and we have to show the world that some of our players have more talent than right now they are perceived [to have]. And I think that's going to happen in time."

In other news, Day 1 of the 2012 Playoffs had some rather tragic outcomes for two players on Eastern Conference teams. Derrick Rose suffered a torn ACL in his left knee with under two minutes to play in the Bulls' game against the 76ers. The Bulls won but they also lost, big. Not too long after that, the Knicks rookie Iman Shumpert suffered the same devastating injury as New York was wiped off the map while playing the Miami Heat, losing 101-67. Both players are expected to be sidelined for 6-8 months, meaning Rose is now out for this summer's Olympics. Jerry Colangelo is now looking to expand the roster for that team.

Finally, the U.S. Government is now investigating the NBPA after allegations surfaced last week against Union Executive Director Billy Hunter. This just gets uglier by the day.

Oh, and check this out (h/t Ball Don't Lie).