Preview: L.A. Lakers At Denver
When: 10:30 PM ET, Friday, May 4, 2012
Where: Pepsi Center, Denver, Colorado
THE STORY: The Denver Nuggets are hoping a variety of factors – the home crowd and mile-high altitude chief among them – will turn the moment in their first-round playoff series against the Los Angeles Lakers. Staring at a 2-0 deficit in the best-of-seven series, Denver will need to push the pace to exploit Los Angeles’ age and negate the Lakers’ overwhelming size advantage. Avoiding playing catch-up would also help the Nuggets, who have never led in the series.
ABOUT THE LAKERS: Bryant was magnificent through three quarters on his way to a 38-point performance in Game 2, giving him 69 points in the series. With Bynum dominating the inside, Los Angeles has a 1-2 punch that the Nuggets have been unable to slow down, much less stop. Coming off his triple-double in Game 1, the 7-foot Bynum followed up with a career playoff-high 27 points Tuesday night. The behemoth center has had his way against Denver, averaging a shade under 25 points and 12 rebounds in four regular-season meetings.
ABOUT THE NUGGETS: Behind point guard Ty Lawson, Denver finally got its running game untracked and managed to chop a 19-point deficit to four late in the fourth quarter. But the Nuggets also trailed by 17 early in Game 1 and cannot afford to play from behind, particularly since they were among the league’s weakest 3-point shooting teams during the regular season. Shooting guard Arron Afflalo needs to get untracked. He averaged 18.7 points in the final month of the season, but has a combined 20 points on 7-of-23 shooting in the series.
1. Los Angeles is 42-1 when winning the first two games of a postseason series.
2. Denver is 0-5 all time against the Lakers in the playoffs.
3. Bryant struggled mightily in both regular-season meetings in Denver, shooting 13 of 51 overall and 2 of 12 from behind the arc.
PREDICTION: Lakers 103, Nuggets 100.