On paper, the Nuggets are the far superior team. Allow me to reinforce that: On paper!
Denver has the edge in every statistical category, except the league’s scoring race which has been recently taken over by Kobe Bryant from Carmelo Anthony. Marcus Camby grabs more boards than Lamar Odom and swats nearly twice as many shots as Andrew Bynum. Allen Iverson dishes out more assist than Kobe and is stealing more than Smush Parker. And if you’re a Nuggets fan, which I am assuming you are, you have to love the match-up with Nene and anyone that the Lakers could conceivably throw at him.
But, when you look at the teams as a whole they are surprisingly similar. The Nuggets are averaging 105 points per game and the Lakers are right on their heels with an average of 103, but keep in mind that they each allow the opposition 103. Both teams have won the two previous match-ups when on their home court making this one just too close to call.
Now there is one developing story to keep your eye on, but you will have to notice what's not going on on the court to notice it. The Nuggets will be without Head Coach George Karl and the team will be guided by Assistant Coach Adrian Dantley. I for one am looking forward to a coaching switch because I think that that AD will be more vocal and involved whereas Karl has been reserved. How the Nuggets react to the different styles in coaching philosophy should be a very telling sign as to why this team, with all the statistical accolades, is doing so mediocre.
I will say this though…
This should be the first of a few playoff-like atmospheres that the Nuggets are going to face in the final ten games. L.A. is not an easy place to play and if the Nuggets come out slippin’, the Lakers will make short work of them. Kobe Bryant is a player that likes to peak right around this time of year, and after his latest glutton of scoring, that is a very scary thought for any opposition to think about.