April 27, 2012

Lakers 2012 NBA Playoffs First Round Preview

It's hard to believe that the 2012 NBA Playoffs is already next week. It's probably because of the compressed 66-game season and the Los Angeles Lakers have only had their first Metta World Peace incident just last week.

The Lakers are sitting comfortably at third place in the Western Conference, following the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder. The team was able to finalize their seeding in their win against the Thunder last week (the infamouse World Peace elbow game).

The Lakers' first round opponent is still to be determined as the Denver Nuggets and the Dallas Mavericks have yet to lock-up their respective playoff positions. So for this 2012 NBA Playoffs first round preview for the Lakers, I'll take a look at both potential opponents.

Denver Nuggets

The Lakers have a 3-1 advantage over the Nuggets in their regular season match-up and this is looks good for the Lakers on paper.

The Nuggets don't have the size to go up against the Lakers' frontline tandem of Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, and it doesn't help that the Nugs sent Nene to the Washington Wizards last February for the less intimidating Javale McGee.

Nuggets forwards Danilo Gallinari and Al Harrington will get minutes trying to stretch the floor (Harrington has averaged 20+ in the teams' last two meetings), and they may fare even better with World Peace suspended for six games in the playoffs.

But what the Lakers need to worry more about is the Nuggets backcourt. Ty Lawson and Andre Miller have run circles around the Lakers' point guards and this means Ramon Sessions and Steve Blake have to step up their games.

The Nuggets have the NBA's best-scoring offense and team assists per game, and this means that they play at a fast rate and share the ball. Personally, I these metrics will take a hit in the playoffs as I foresee the Lakers to tighten the screws on defense come playoff time.

Prediction: Lakers in 5

Dallas Mavericks

The Dallas Mavericks have to demonstrate their championship mettle this season against the Lakers (the Mavs were swept by the Lakers in the regular season). This bodes very well for the the Lakers.

The players that killed the Lakers last season (J.J. Barea and Tyson Chandler) have left the Mavericks and this will put a lot more weight on the shoulders of Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd, and Jason Terry to lead the Mavs.

Unfortunately for the Mavs trio, it will be an uphill climb, which is more like scaling a high wall. The Lakers will use their size advantage to frustrate their optential opponents and clog the lanes to prevent the slashing to the hoop. The only chance the Mavs have is if their outside shooting floats in the 50% range.

I am not the only one who thinks the Dallas Mavericks will not repeat as NBA champs this season and I think the Lakers will avenge their defeat, should the two teams meet in the first round.

Prediction: Lakers in 6

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