2020 West Finals Preview

Keys for the Lakers

The Lakers have a couple things going for them aside from having Anthony Davis and Lebron James on their roster. For one, their two biggest threats all season: the Milwaukee Bucks and the Los Angeles Clippers are gone. Both contenders flamed out in spectacular fashion. In that way, it would seem that the Lakers are the best team left in the field and also the favorite to win it all. For another, the Lakers get to play a team that has gone down 3-1 in two straight playoff series. That’s not to discount the Nuggets at all but Laker fans have to be happy that they don’t have to see Kawhi Leonard in the next round.

Lastly, the Lakers are playing great. They’re 8-2 in the playoffs and the only real negative you can say is that they keep losing game 1’s. We thought the Blazers would give them problems but the Lakers beat them down. Houston was expected to give the Lakers a series but LA won 4 straight games to take them out in 5. Simply out, LeBrow and the gang look hungry and motivated after their troubling 3-5 seeding games record. Here are the keys for the Lakers in this 2020 West Finals.

The “Other Guys”

The group that qualifies here are players who average more than 20 minutes a game and are not named Anthony Davis or Lebron James. These players consist of Kentavius Caldwell-Pope (27 min), Danny Green (26 min), Rajon Rondo (26 min), Kyle Kuzma (24 min) and Alex Caruso (23 min). In the playoffs, these 5 guys account for 46.2 points whereas Lebrow (Lebron and AD) average 54.2 per game.

The Lakers need more production out of their secondary group. Playoff Rondo has been a real thing as he’s averaging double figures with 10.6 ppg and 7 assists. Kyle Kuzma has had some big games as well and is scoring well at 11 points a game. For me, I need more out of Danny Green and KCP especially with the minutes they are getting (but we’ll get to them in a minute). If these 5 guys can all up their production slightly, the Lakers become extremely hard to beat.

The Bigs vs The Joker

The way to slow down Jokić is to be physical and make him work. Jokić entered the bubble in better shape but he’s also fresh off back to back 7 game series’. I believe the Lakers can slow him down by throwing big bodies in his way and tiring him out. In the regular season, Dwight Howard and Javale McGee averaged about 35 minutes a night. However, during the playoffs their minutes have diminished based on the opponents the Lakers went against.

The Blazers had Nurkić but otherwise used Carmelo Anthony as a power forward. The Houston Rockets are famous for playing a 6’5 center so the McGee/Howard pairing was reduced to cat calling from the sidelines. Against Denver however, they’ll earn their paychecks. Jokić is a wizard with the basketball and I don’t expect Howard or McGee to be able to stop his playmaking. They can however make it more difficult on him with their strength and length.

Points in the Paint

All year, the Lakers have feasted on points in the paint. Denver is a team that (at times) plays “olé” defense, allowing opponents to score at will in the painted area. This seems like a recipe for disaster. However, Denver proved that they can turn you into a jump-shooting team as they did with the Clippers. So the question then becomes, will the Lakers take the bait? If Lebron and Anthony Davis settle for jumpers and shots outside the key, they’ll be doing Denver a favor. They need to attack early and often. For the Lakers, scoring in the paint not only gets them easy buckets. It also gets their stars more free throw attempts and opens up the rest of the floor for their shooters…

Series X-Factor(s): The Shooters

To be honest it’s hard to pick one X-factor for this Laker team. They have a different player contributing every night. As a whole though, their 3 point shooters could be the X-factors. Let’s say Denver does find a way to close down the paint. LA drivers will be forced to kick it out to shooters. KCP and Green have to knock those down. Both guards average over 25 minutes and 2 threes a game. Their production may get a boost in this series. KCP is shooting 41% from 3 in the playoffs and Green is at 38%. That’s good but the key will be to maintain those percentages with more attempts. The collective shooting of the two guards could be a major X-factor in this 2020 West Finals.



3 thoughts on “2020 West Finals Preview

  1. Never been a believer in Murray, but obviously I was wrong. I am rooting for a regression from that 49% from 3 in this series which should make things easier enough for the real LA nba team.

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