Big Test for Tom Thibodeau
5 Reasons Why Denver Can Shock the Lakers
By Wayne Root:
Sunday Night the Denver Nuggets hope to even their series against the Los Angeles Lakers at two games apiece. The current Vegas line as I write this is Denver by 2.5 points, which means they're slight favorites to knot things up. Today I want to outline for you five reasons why Denver is not only a threat to win tonight, but also a threat to come back and pull off an upset in this series.
The Lakers are getting tired. You could see that in Game Three when they lost hustle stats and missed so many three pointers. Denver's been trying to push the tempo in early games in hopes of wearing down a Lakers team with a short rotation. There are at least signs that it's working...which gives Denver clear hope at least in any game at altitude (tonight, and then a Game Six if the series goes that far).
The Lakers don't have good chemistry. Andrew Bynum can't stop from scowling every time he doesn't get the ball. Kobe Bryant still wants to take all the shots. Bryant launched 23 shots in Friday Night's loss in Denver, compared to just 11 for Bynum. Bynum had to grab offensive rebounds to join the offense during long stretches! Winning teams can deal with chemistry issues. But, when things start to go south, the problems can really blow up. You saw this last year when the Lakers lost to Dallas. Not much has changed since then in terms of how many of the Lakers resent Kobe.
The Lakers don't have a great offensive plan in crunch time other than hoping Kobe hits a guarded shot. Their new head coach Mike Brown had the same problem in Cleveland with a young LeBron James. When it came time to run a play and score a basket, opposing defenses knew what to do. This gives Denver a chance to win any game that goes right down to the wire. We haven't seen any of those yet. I doubt the series will end without at least one fantastic finish.
Denver has the better bench. Andre Miller provides a big lift off the bench because he's such an experienced veteran. He knows how to run an offense, and he knows how to outsmart whoever's guarding him from the Lakers. Javale McGee is in over his head a starter...but will give you solid hustle and production as a potent backup. McGee scored 16 points and had 15 rebounds in just 28 minutes Friday Night.
Danilo Galinari can't shoot any worse than he already has been! Galinari is 15 of 43 from the field so far in this series, 1 of 7 on three-pointers. Maybe he won't get better, because he is playing with an injury. But, he's not going to get any worse. That means there's good upside from his spot on the floor in a series that already had the Nuggets knocking on the door of a dead heat anyway.
I'm known as THE KING OF UPSETS because I can recognize when the stage is at least set for a possible SHOCK THE SYSTEM result. And, I can assure you that Denver coming back to win this series after falling behind 2-0 would shock the city of Los Angeles and the NBA. It wouldn't shock me. But, I can't tell you for certain that it's going to happen. In fact, I might not even be on the Denver Nuggets -2.5 tonight! You'll have to sign up for service to get my Super Move NBA Game of the Week that could be in any of Sunday's four games. Complete details on basketball and baseball programs are available at 1-877-766-8946.
My concerns for Denver would be:
Lack of winning playoff experience
A size disadvantage in the paint
The continuing travails of Galinari
The role officiating might play in favoring the Lakers
That last one in particular could loom very large if Denver is able to make this a series.
Hey, if picking winners was easy, everyone would be doing it! I'm THE KING OF LAS VEGAS because I know how to take dozens of potential influences then narrow them down to the factors that matter most. Sometimes that leads to SHOCK THE SYSTEM stunners that leave the media scratching their heads. But, you know what? The Lakers are the underdog tonight! Maybe the Lakers are an upset special that deserves more respect than the market's been giving them in this bounce back spot.
As you watch the game, be sure you're thinking about how the rest of the series might play out with these two very different opponents. Game Five is set for Tuesday, with Games Six and Seven if needed on Thursday and Saturday. That's every other day...which could set the stage for the younger, fresher team to wear down the veterans if they're able to draw even in the series tonight.
I follow the Los Angeles teams very closely because Las Vegas has become a virtual suburb of LA and Hollywood. With the Lakers and Clippers both leading their series 2-1 as I write this, the Western Conference brackets are going to play right into my hands. Be sure you go to W.A.R. alongside handicapper to the stars, WAYNE ALLYN ROOT!
Coach Ron Meyer: Big Test for Tom Thibodeau
When Gregg Popovich was named NBA Coach of the Year earlier this week, there was outrage in Chicago. Bulls fans were sure that Tom Thibodeau was going to win the award because he led the Bulls to the #1 seed in the East despite losing Derrick Rose for a large hunk of the season.
Well, Popovich led the Spurs to #1 in the tougher West despite losing Manu Ginobili for about the same amount of time. And, Ginobili had better per-minute stats this year than Rose. But, that's neither here nor there. What's important is that Thibodeau is now facing the toughest test of his brief tenure as a head coach
Chicago trails Philadelphia two games to one in their first round series.
Derrick Rose will be in street clothes.
Chicago is facing its first real crises of confidence because nobody's rising the occasion when the game is on the line without Rose.
One of the few players who had been getting anything done was Joakim Noah, who suffered a bad ankle sprain in Friday Night's game. Noah hobbled through the whole fourth quarter, as the Sixers won the period 28-14 in a surge to victory.
Chicago is losing the battle of X's and O's to Doug Collins so far in this series. Philadelphia has a strong defense, and has taken away Chicago's Plan B and Plan C in the two games without Rose. Philadelphia didn't exactly explode on offense in their 79-74 win Friday Night...but they did get better looks inside while drawing more free throws and turning the ball over less.
Right now...Thibodeau isn't the best coach in this series, let alone the league. Once his MVP was off the floor, and he wasn't facing opponents who were tanking for the draft or pacing themselves for the postseason...his "coaching genius" seemed to disappear. He was at a loss as to how to score any points. His defense kept fouling while not forcing turnovers when the last two games were on the line.
I'm a fan of Thibodeau, and I'm not suggesting that he's been exposed as a pretender or anything. What I'm saying is that he's been dealt a few very quick surprises that has had his team reeling. He has yet to come up with a strategic solution to solve problems, or to come up with a way to convince his players that everything is going to be okay. They're starting to play with panic in their eyes. That's the last thing a coach wants to see.
Thibodeau's strength has always been on defense. Some consider him more of a "defensive coordinator" in NFL terms who may not be able to win a championship unless he has an MVP scoring points for his offense (and they couldn't even win the East last year when they had that!). If there was an award for "Defensive Coach of the Year," Thibodeau might win that every season. If you're holding an opponent to 51 points through three quarters, and 79 in a road game...then the defense is doing enough to win even with crunch time lapses. There shouldn't be a crunch time if the opponent finishes with 79 points!
We need to watch Chicago's offense very closely when they take the floor in Game Four on Sunday. If they don't bring anything new to the table, then it's going to be very hard to ask this team to cover any pointspreads moving forward in the playoffs. Even if they should survive a first round battle with Philadelphia, they'll have trouble covering spreads in the next round against the Boston-Atlanta winner. The market has made an adjustment for the absence of roads of 2-3 points in the line. Chicago has missed the closing lines by 23 and 6 points since the injury...versus a #8 seed that had a losing record after the All-Star Break. What's going to happen against a team that's playing well?!
I have some strong opinions this weekend in the NBA Playoffs. You can purchase them right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call my office at 1-877-540-8787. I'm the only man in the handicapping industry who has experience as a head coach in the postseason. I understand what goes on in the locker room. I know what kind of pressure coaches and players are dealing with under the intense media spotlight. I can assure you right now that neither Thibodeau nor any other NBA coach is talking about Power Ratings, systems, or angles at practice, in the pre-game locker room, or during timeouts on the sideline. I know what MATTERS. And, THAT'S what helps me beat the line for my clients.
Don't go in undermanned in your X's and O's battle with Vegas oddsmakers. It's time to put A COACH IN YOUR CORNER!
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