As a Lakers fan, when I first saw this game on the schedule, I became dizzy with euphoria as my heart raced in anticipation. No wait…that was the day I forgot to take my blood pressure medication . Regardless, at the time, this looked like a sure “W” for my MIGHTY Lake Show. But then about 10 games, 2 Laker coaches, & a dominant Knicks performance into the season, I went “Uh Oh”.
It’s both fascinating and ironic that these teams are both old & relatively unathletic. The Knicks are literally the oldest team in the history of the NBA…so old that they have a 35-year-old rookie. The Lakers starting line-up is old and that the Black Mamba at age 34 & after 16 years is the most athletic player on the team pretty much sums up their athleticism . The difference in the teams is that the Knicks are playing superior basketball with the best record in the East while the Lakers are sub-.500 & were stinking up the entire western hemisphere until their current 4-game win streak over mostly crappy teams.
It’s also interesting that the Lakers are coached by the same CLOWN that failed as the Knicks coach. The Knicks still basically run D’Antoni’s offense, but unlike the Lakers, the Knicks now play good defense…something that D’Antoni is apparently allergic to.
Christmas Presents…Cookies or Coal?
-Steve Nash is, as of 12/22, back at the point for the Lakers. Good News: The Laker offense should dramatically improve. Who knows…Nash may even sneakily include Pau Gasol (who just returned) in the post, despite D’Antoni’s wacky insistence that Gasol hang out at the 3-point line where he couldn’t hit the Pacific Ocean from the pier. Bad News: Nash, at almost 39 years old, can only guard Jason Kidd who’s 105 or thereabouts . When Nash has to guard the speedy Raymond Felton, he just may break his leg again .
-The Knicks MAY get Amar’e Stoudamire back for this game. Good News: Amar’e is a great player. Bad News: He and Melo can be like oil & water when on the floor together. If Amar’e comes off the bench, he may or may not fit well or be attitudinally-acceptant of playing with the 2nd unit…despite what he says.
Knicks Keys To The Game
-Carmelo Anthony: Playing at an MVP level on both ends of the floor. He will be un-guardable by anyone wearing purple & gold. Knicks should feed him the ball as if he were…well…Melo!
-Rain those Treys: Lakers suck the big one in guarding the 3-point line, especially following kick-outs off penetration. Novak et al can have career days from beyond the arc.
-Gamble to force the Lakers into turnovers. Then beat them in transition as the Lakers can’t defend at all in transition.
-Bench: Knicks have a deep, albeit old bench. Meanwhile, the Lakers have arguably the worst bench in the NBA. When matched up, the Knicks bench should dominate the Lakers bench.
Lakers Keys To The Game
-Steve Nash: He has to control the offensive flow. He must find his teammates in their optimum spots. He must operate the screen-roll with BOTH Dwight Howard & Pau Gasol. He must feed the Black Mamba enough to keep him happy that the Mamba isn’t running the offense.
-Dwight Howard: He must play free safety defensively to compensate for Nash et al’s defensive deficiencies. Offensively, he must look for the lobs coming from Nash & Gasol off the screen-roll & screen-kick-perimeter pass and pound the boards. I won’t bother mentioning his free throw shooting as it is what it is .
-Pau Gasol: He must find some semblance of his place in dumb ass D’Antoni’s “I don’t know what to do with two talented 7-footers” offense. To keep from getting benched, he’ll likely need to play facilitator when the Knicks clog the post yet present himself enough in the high screen-roll with Nash to take advantage of Gasol’s superior post skills…same skills that annoyed the U.S. Olympic team last summer.
-The Black Mamba: Also playing at an MVP level, except his team is semi-sucking so no MVP talk for him…yet. He must allow Nash to involve everyone offensively, yet still selectively create his own “Mamba” shots. He must be aggressive, but resist the urge to get into a personal shoot-out with his good friend and “Little Brother” Melo. Due to defense & selfless offense, the Knicks can win with Melo scoring 40, but the Lakers cannot likely win this game with the Mamba droppin FITTY…which he will try to do if the Lakers get behind big.
It should be a fun game. The Knicks are in their groove while the Lakers are still trying to overcome injuries, new coach & new players. So, I reluctantly predict a close Knicks’ victory.