The Lakers and Nuggets return to Los Angeles tonight, with the Lakers firmly in control with a 3-1 lead. Appropriately dubbed "Gentlemen's Sweep Tuesday" by Matt Moore, the Lakers will be part of a four-game slate of 3-1 series playing their respective Game 5.
Tuesday night in the NBA playoffs is Gentleman's Sweep Night. Four teams enter action Tuesday with a chance to finish off their opponent and head home for some rest while the rest of the first round plays out. It's not absolute dominance, but it's as close as it gets. The Celtics, Lakers, Sixers and Pacers have all reached this point through different means, and none of them in the archetype manner, but a win on Tuesday and the result is the same -- a first-round win with time to rest before the second round.
As such, most of the talking points in practice yesterday centered around how the Lakers would go about closing out the Nuggets. Mike Brown with the typical coach answer, via ESPN LA:
"For me, I'm not a guy that will talk about, 'Hey, we got to win this because of this or because of that,' " Brown said. "The players know it. They know this is a close-out game. They know if we win this game (instead of Game 6 or Game 7), we don't have to get on a plane right away and fly to Oklahoma City. I mean, my ninth grade boy knows it and he's not interested in basketball."
Andrew Bynum had a different, more direct response:
"Close-out games are actually kind of easy," Bynum said. "Teams tend to fold if you come out and play hard in the beginning, so we want to come out and establish an early lead and protect it."
And of course, Kobe Bryant gave the veteran savvy response:
"Patience and intelligence," said Kobe Bryant. "You just really have to take the time to execute and also come out with the right energy to carry a game."
Summary: Nobody wants to go back to Denver.