We had a chance to talk with Chris Shellcroft of Lake Show Life about how the Los Angeles Lakers matchup with the Denver Nuggets in the first round of the playoffs, which begins Sunday at 1:30 p.m. (Mountain standard time).
The Lakers and Nuggets were one of the few teams that played each other four times this season and so Shellcroft was very familiar with how Los Angeles and Denver matchup.
(Editor’s note: first question should have said suspension, not injury. However, Chris played it off really well.)
Impact of Metta World Peace’s injury? Are the Lakers going to miss him and who steps into his role?
Well…you’re being kind by chalking Metta’s absence up to an “injury”. If you mean the brain damage he’s sustained over the years then yes, that Bones Jones he landed on Harden could be considered the result of an injury. The impact is big as the Lakers are already thin on talent beyond their starting lineup. When’s he’s motivated, MWP brings that playoff intensity a team needs to carry them through the tough test of playing the same opponent in a seven game series. Worst of all is that he was playing his best ball as a Laker before that moment of madness against OKC. Replacing World Peace will be a team effort. Matt Barnes is the logical next man up but he’s got an ankle injury and Devin Ebanks is still learning the NBA ropes.
Is Andrew Bynum the best big man in the playoffs?
I have to say without a doubt he is the best big not only in the playoffs but in the league. However that’s only when you look at how many true centers there are in the game. There might be guys with better stats or highlights but when you look at all Bynum does there is nobody else like him. There isn’t a game situation in which Bynum isn’t a valued contributor…well…except shooting threes. The issue with Andrew is all about what goes on above the shoulders. From time to time Baby Bynum comes out to play and the results can be unwatchable.
What is the biggest advantage the Lakers have over the Nuggets?
The Lakers have the advantage of being able to control the pace of the game thanks to their presence in the paint. If Bynum and Pau Gasol control the glass, get buckets in the paint and draw double teams then the game slows to a half court setting which is how L.A. wants to play the Nuggets. When the Lakers try to run with Ty Lawson and company it gets ugly. Giving the big guys touches early will open up the entire offense late.
Do the Lakers miss Lamar Odom’s presence off the bench? Which player/s needs to replace him?
Odom is irreplaceable. He has a skill set nobody else in this league nobody else is close to. He could play three positions, scored, rebounded, defended, ran the break and was a great teammate. That trade was a real blow to all parties involved as evident by all the fallout. Without L.O. the Lakers have no real depth and have been incapable of replacing his production. World Peace, Ebanks and Barnes have all got time starting and in the 6th man role without coming close to Odom’s production. At this point all you can hope is that the bench will give you a good effort because asking that unit to keep a lead is like asking Charles Barkley to keep his mouth shut.
Who is the X-factor for the Lakers in the playoffs?
I’m going to say Sessions. He’s had some moments of brilliance and some games that make you realize why he’s bounced around so much in such a short period of time. If he’s consistently on his game it gives the Lakers a dynamic you just can’t prepare for.
Tags: Andrew Bynum Chris Paul Denver Nuggets Derek Fisher Devin Ebanks Kobe Bryant Lamar Odom Los Angeles Lakers Matt Barnes Metta World Peace Mike Brown Pau Gasol Phil Jackson Ramon Sessions Ty Lawson