May 1, 2012 Leave a comment
The Los Angeles Lakers begin their “Road to Redemption” at Staples Center with a tasty matchup against the #6 seed Denver Nuggets.
While many Lakers fans had been licking their chops at the opportunity to exact revenge on the rival Mavericks, LakerMagic has remained firm in our stance that the Nuggets are the easier opponent for the Lakers. Here are 5 reasons why Denver is the preferred matchup for the Lakers:
#1 Dirk Nowitzki
Let’s start with the obvious. Quite simply, Dallas has a superstar and Denver just doesn’t. As we all know, superstars carry teams during the playoffs and Dirk is no exception. In fact we all learned last season that Dirk is the type of player that can single-handily carry a team to the NBA championship. There are only a few players in the league capable of this feat: Kobe, Dirk, LeBron, D-Wade — just to name a few. Not only does Denver not have a Dirk-type, but they don’t even have an all-star on their team. In a close game, they will struggle to find a “g0-to guy” able to make the big shot to win a game. Dallas doesn’t have this problem with Dirk.
#2 Youth vs. Experience
The Nuggets might not have an all-star on their roster but they sure do have a plethora of young talent. Unfortunately for Denver, youth doesn’t win ballgames in the playoffs. Guys like Ty Lawson, Arron Afflalo and JaVale McGee are all nice players, but are any of them ready for the spotlight? Like I said, nobody on the roster has even made the all-star team yet. Contrast that with a Dallas roster stacked with savvy veterans like Jason Kidd, Vince Carter, Jason Terry and of course Dirk Nowitzki. It’s a no-brainer if you’re the Lakers who you’d rather play. The Lakers’ playoff and finals experience will be too much for this young Denver roster to handle.
#3 The Heart of a Champion
You can’t deny the heart of a champion. Sure the Mavericks are the #7 seed and a heavy underdog to the Thunder, but trust me when I say the Lakers would much rather play the Nuggets than try to knock out the defending champs. The Lakers have owned Denver in the playoffs for the last half decade while they were swept out of the second round by Dallas last season. Even if L.A. did sweep the regular season series 4-0, the Mavs swept the Lakers in the all-important postseason and thus still own the ‘mental edge’. While the Lakers would probably still beat the Mavs 4-2 or 4-1, the wear and tear on their bodies from such a grueling series would make them more vulnerable against Oklahoma City in Round 2. No thank you.
Not to knock Lakers Coach Mike Brown, but both George Karl and Rick Carlisle are better coaches than him at this point in their careers. That said I’d much rather go against the Nuggets’ Karl who is older and slightly past his prime. Yes he gets his teams to play hard every night, but he just doesn’t have the edge anymore like he did in Seattle and his early days of Denver. Rick Carlisle on the other hand is regarded as one of the top 3 coaches in the NBA along with Greg Popovich and Tim Thibodeau. Again, I think the Lakers would take care of either team in five or six games, but I’d much rather have Coach Karl making halftime adjustments than Coach Carlisle.
#5 Health & Injuries
The Nuggets come into the NBA Playoffs hot but with question marks. Having Danilo Gallinari healthy in the post-season is a luxury for Denver, but what about the loss of Wilson Chandler? Perhaps their most versatile player will miss the rest of the season with a hip injury, something that many NBA analysts are forgetting when discussing the Lakers-Nuggets series. Couple this with the fact that stud Nene has been replaced with inconsistent JaVale McGee and the Nuggets are actually worse off they than were two months ago. The Mavs lost Tyson Chandler and J.J. Barea in the offseason but added Vince Carter and Delonte West to soften the blow. More importantly, they rested Jason Kidd and other veterans recently in order to get ready to defend their title. Given the state of both rosters, give me the Nuggets in Round 1.