May 1, 2008

Anatomy of The Sweep

The Los Angeles Lakers swept the Denver Nuggets in their best of seven first round series. If you have been following the NBA pundits, the Lakers are the heavy favorites in their match-up, but almost no one foresaw a sweep-- a convincing one at that. So after the 107-101 win on the knock-out game, let's look at the major actors in the series we call The Sweep:
  1. The Winners - The Lakers played the Nuggets very well to the point that I was convinced the Nuggets were not a playoff-caliber team, despite the 50 regular season wins. The key factors that made the Lakers very dangerous was the crisp passing and offensive execution. Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol were expected to have strong games but it was the likes of Lamar Odom, Sasha Vujacic and Luke Walton that ultimately killed the Nuggets little by little. Another thing: The Lakers shooting was impressive during the four games-- they collectively shot better within and beyond the arc than they did during the regular season. I call that stepping up.
  2. The Losers - I give the "Loser" tag to the Nuggets with little hesitation because they really acted that way for most part of the series. The biggest loser her is Carmelo Anthony, who seems to have inherited the "Playoff Choke Artist" title from the retired Chris Webber. Even a colleague of mine from HoopsVibe who is a Denver Nuggets fan even lamented that he hoped the series would end early so that it would "end the Nuggets' misery." Too bad Allen Iverson, Linas Kleiza and JR Smith played in vain. Was Nuggets coach George Karl softened by his son's presence in the other team?
  3. The Games - The Lakers-Nuggets seven games series was really three games of Lakers dominating the Nuggets in almost every way and one really competitive game in the last. Game 1 saw Pau Gasol leading the Laker charge and Game 2 belonged to Kobe Bryant, hanging 49 points on the Nuggets. When the series shifted to Denver, the Nuggets sort of regressed and lost by 18 in what people saw a "must-win-bounce-back" game. Game 4 was a beauty as the game finished in a very thrilling fashion.
A Sweep is 4-0 in a seven game series, but it's really two teams in four games where one team won and swept and one team that lost and wept.

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