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Lakers-Nuggets Predictions: It's Never Too Late To See The Future, Look Stupid

Kobe does not approve of SSR's inability to get predictions done on time.
Kobe does not approve of SSR's inability to get predictions done on time.

A day (or two) late, a buck short, but we have a tradition around these parts of putting our knowledge (or lack thereof) on display in predicting how each playoff series will play out, and I'll be damned if we're going to let the fact that Game 1 has already been played prevent us. There's no getting around the fact that the Lakers' dominant display in Game 1 has already happened and already affected folks' thoughts on how the series will play out, but there's still plenty of unknown with which to risk our titles as experts.

Without further ado, the late predictions of your crack SSR writing staff (including the newbies!!):

Ben R.

For the record, Ben did record this prediction prior to Game 1. I have proof. - CA

The advantage the Lakers have from their frontcourt simply one that the Nuggets can't counter. JaVale McGee is a nice prospect and all, but he doesn't have the bulk to deter Andrew Bynum in the post and Kenneth Faried, as great of a rookie year as he's had, doesn't even stand 6'8'' in shoes, something bound to be a liability against Pau Gasol. All those small lineups built to run teams off the floor with Al Harrington at the five get destroyed with Bynum manning the middle, forcing George Karl to field a conventional lineup for practically the entire game, as Bynum will invariably be playing 38-40 minutes as part of the playoff rotation. Denver, moreover, doesn't have an exceptional wing defender to throw at Kobe Bryant, as while Arron Afflalo is very serviceable, he's not at the All-Defense level of say a Tony Allen or a Thabo Sefolosha. All this noted, the Nuggets are certainly not without their own aces in the hole. The point guard rotation in Ty Lawson and Andre Miller certainly can give the Lakers' own points a run for their money, especially Miller, who wrecked Ramon Sessions and Steve Blake on post-up after post-up the last time these two teams met. Sessions, at least, will be able to challenge both of them on the offensive end, but one hopes that Brown follows the example Kobe set when he shut down Russell Westbrook and give him the job of stopping Miller. The Lakers have also done a poor job in the past of stopping high octane teams that run, throw a bunch of shooters onto the floor and let rip. Needless to say, they will have to make a concerted effort to slow the game down on the other end through heavy post-up play and getting back in transition, the latter a particular bete noire for the Lakers this season.

Altogether, teams like the Nuggets who get by on the strength of their depth tend to encounter problems in the playoffs because shortened rotations, increased rest, and television timeouts give much more emphasis on the quality of your top four or five players, whereas ones like the Lakers benefit from the fact that they don't have to give minutes to a substandard bench unit. This would be even more of a decided advantage if Metta World Peace was still playing and allowing the Lakers to run their regular rotations, but Devin Ebanks acquitted himself well recently, notably by checking Kevin Durant and he should be able to make Danilo Gallinari work on offense. Assuming Matt Barnes has recovered from his ankle injury, he and Jordan Hill should be able to provide some solid minutes as the Lakers' primary reserves. As such, the Lakers should be able to complete the "gentlemen's sweep" if they stick to their strengths, most of which the Nuggets will have great difficulty in countering. The Nuggets' only victory this year against the Lakers required an incredibly bad shooting night from Kobe to pull out, and the Lakers' latest victory came without Kobe in the lineup. The consistent theme is the domination of the Lakers' frontcourt, something that will be featured over and over again in this series. A hot shooting night might give the Nuggets one or two games at home, but in the end, the Lakers' advantages are really something Denver can't deal with.

Prediction: Lakers in 5

Mark Travis

This matchup is the ultimate battle between two very contrasting styles of play and roster building. The Lakers are a grind it out team built around three high usage players that like to play a half-court game and have an incredible level of skill with a major focus on the defensive end from their head coach. The Nuggets are a track meet personified built on the theory that, having already tried the superstar route and failed, a team with no true number one option can win in the playoffs. There is some pure talent here (mainly Gallo) but when this team does something impressive, more often than not it's their athleticism that wows you rather than their skill. And as much as George Karl tries to get this team to defend, they simply can't do it, especially against a team with two skilled seven footers like the Lakers. The Nuggets can win a game or two by outracing the Lakers to the final buzzer, but history tells us to go with size over speed

Prediction: Lakers in 6


In the words of a great man, "Too big, too strong, too good". The Lakers are, quite frankly, too big for the Nuggets to handle. It's not just the physical size, but how much the weight of the Lakers' collective skill set and style of play lords over what Denver brings to the table. I think the Show drops the first one in Denver, but smooth sailing before and after that.

Prediction: Lakers in 5


The Lakers have too much size and skill on the front line for Denver to match. Bynum and Gasol should dominate this series and if they both play to their full potential the Lakers would probably sweep the Nuggets out of the playoffs. I don't see a sweep happening for two very simple reasons though: 1) Ty Lawson is fast... very fast. He is the type of point guard that gives the Lakers troubles, even with the upgrade of Sessions at the point guard position. There is bound to be one game where Bynum gets in foul trouble (probably in Denver) and has to sit which will open the lane for Lawson to exploit. 2) Aaron Afflalo is an elite defender. He is the type of defender that gives Kobe problems. He is strong enough to defend the post-up, quick enough to defend him on the perimeter, and long enough to contest shots. There will be at least one game where Kobe hoists 25+ shots with fewer than 10 falling. A night like that in Denver could easily lead to a loss.

Prediction: Lakers in 6


Finally, the playoffs are here. Maybe we might start to see normal basketball following one of, if not the, weirdest seasons ever. The lockout shortened, condensed 66 game schedule didn't make sense of much. The young, running, gunning teams you expected to be good (OKC, Chicago, and Miami) looked exactly as we thought they would - young, fast, and good, and they usually ran lesser teams off the floor. Each of those teams also enjoyed the luxury of familiarity. Every other team either fell into a really bad, teams in flux, or old. The Lakers fall into the latter two categories. With such a quirky, frenetic schedule it was hard to get a handle these Lakers. They show us championship promise for a few games, then crap the bed for a game or two.

How much of that was contributed to the pace of the season? Schedule losses and lack of practice time made it impossible to completely understand exactly how good the Lakers can be. Still, they enter the playoffs with as good a shot at wiining the Larry O'Brien Trophy as any other team in the NBA, and finally we might actually get to see consistently good basketball. The playoffs are no time to experiment with line-ups and it seems Coach Brown's maddening rotations and timely injuries have slowly prepared every Laker on the team. Rotations should be set, and everyone should be on the same page, especially with proper time to prepare.

We know the Nuggets are too small to play the Lakers. It's really as simple as that. Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol are too big and too skilled for the Nuggets to beat the Lakers in a seven games series when they have to rely on JaVale McGee and Timofy Mozgov to counter the Lakers Twin Towers. The faces on Denver's roster may have changed but their problems with the Lakers' height has not. I wouldn't be surprised if the Lakers won in 4-5 games, but I'm going to pick the Lakers in 6 for these reasons:

  • C'mon. The Lakers always play like shit at least one or two games.
  • George Karl is a good coach and should come up with something to stymie the Lakers for a game or two.
  • Kobe might take Arron Afflalo's defense too personally.
  • Andrew Bynum is Andrew Bynum.
  • Mike Brown might confuse the fuck out of us.
  • I want MWP to play the whole OKC series
  • Prediction: Lakers in 6

    Robert Karpeles

    Lakers may have struggled against good guard play this season, and the Nuggets have enough guys to give the Lakers' backcourt headaches. Regardless, the Nuggets just don't have enough to stop the Lakers from dominating the paint. In this series, size will matter.

    Prediction: Lakers in 5

    C.A. Clark

    There's no getting around how dominant the Lakers looked in Game 1 of the series, and no getting around the fact that the Nuggets have no business beating a focused, locked in Lakers squad even once in a four game series. But the very concept of a focused Lakers squad is an contradiction over any period of time longer than one game. The Lakers ration out performances like Game 1 as tightly as OPEC gives out barrels of oil. My guess is we won't see them look that good again until the 2nd round. The Lakers will give away at least one contest at home, and legitimately lose at least one contest in Denver, before doing what is their favorite thing in the world, and closing the series out on their opponent's court. Just like clockwork, if clockwork decided to take certain days off while running perfectly the rest of the time.

    Prediction: Lakers in 6

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