Saturday, May 12, 2012

Pair of Game 7's

Los Angeles' two NBA franchises will be playing decisive Game 7s this weekend to determine their postseason fate.  Both were up 3-1 in their series, after losing a close game and a blowout they find themselves in do-or-die matchups (I will refrain from making a Battle: LA reference here).

Tonight-Nuggets @ Lakers (10:30 PM EST)

The Lakers seized the initiative with a 3-1 series lead and seemed poised to put away the Nuggets with homecourt advantage for Game 5.  But Denver got off to a good start and never looked back, maintaining a lead over LA for the remainder of the game.  The Lakers, led by Kobe Bryant's 43 points, rallied in the fourth quarter to trim the deficit to one point after a Ramon Sessions three with 14 seconds left, but Andre Miller knocked down both free throws to put the Nuggets back up by three.  Bryant and Sessions missed final possession three point attempts, and the Nugs escaped with a 102-99 victory to send the series back to the Rockies.

Bryant battled a stomach bug in Game 6 and still managed to drop 31 points, but it wasn't enough as Denver crushed LA 113-96.  Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson erupted for 32 points, drilling five treys and connecting on 13 of 18 field goal attempts.  Once again Denver came out guns blazing, scoring thirteen unanswered points to open the game.  By the second half they were cruising and it was clear the Lakers were not going to recover.
Game 7 will be a hard fought battle between the Lakers and Nuggets
This young Nuggets squad seems to have shifted the momentum in this series.  Their offense is on a roll and I'm rooting for them to upset LA tonight.  However, I still have faith that the Lakers won't fold given their extensive playoff experience and key advantage in the paint (Andrew Bynum is going to have a big game after being held to just eleven points in Game 6).  Bryant, the most competitive player alive simply won't allow it.  In addition, they will benefit from the return of Metta World Peace, who's back after a seven game suspension for clocking James Harden.  Peace plays excellent defense and provides plenty of his trademark fiery intensity, so he may provide the sagging Lakers a much needed spark.  This game could go either way, but I think the aging Lakers will bounce back and win decisively.  The victor will play the Thunder.

Tomorrow afternoon-Clippers @ Grizzlies (1 PM EST)

This series has followed the same pattern as the Lakers series.  The Clips jumped out to a 3-1 lead, but traveled to Memphis for their closeout game and dug themselves a huge hole when they fell behind by 24 points with three minutes remaining in the third quarter.  Despite injuries to Blake Griffin (twisted knee) and Chris Paul (groin) that forced the duo out of the game in the fourth, LA made a spirited run to cut the lead to six. Memphis didn't panic, though, and finished the game strong to secure a 92-80 victory.

So with CP3 and BG hobbled in Game 6, the Grizzlies managed to eek out a 90-88 thriller at the Staples Center.  Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph stuffed the stat sheet as the Griz crushed the Clippers on the glass, outrebounding LA 66-40.  Los Angeles held an eight point fourth quarter lead, only to squander every ounce of it.  Randy Foye nailed a trey with 3.7 seconds left in the game to pull within two, but the Clips were slow to match up after the basket and allowed Memphis to inbound the ball and break away before they could commit a foul.
Gasol and Z-Bo pack a devastating punch in the frontcourt
I've said all along that the Grizzlies are the better team, and with homecourt advantage in Game 7 I think they win a close game and advance to play the Spurs in the conference semis.

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