We’re grinding towards the opening tip of Lakers-Nuggets. So to get you all prepped for the Lakers’ opening round series we reached out to FanSided’s resident expert on all things Nugget. That would be none other than Nugg Love editor Josh Maness.
Josh knows his Nuggets like Metta World Peace will know his hotel room in Denver for the opening round series. We picked his brain on everything from the new look Nuggets with JaVale McGee to his team’s odds of winning the series. Here’s what he had to say.
Lake Show Life: What advantages do the Nuggets have over the Lakers in a seven game series?
Josh Maness: The two biggest advantages that Denver has over L.A. is speed and depth. However, the only way to utilize the speed is to get stops, which will be tough against the Lakers due to their size and talent.
Bench is probably the biggest advantage Denver has. Ironically, it was at the end of the loss to the Lakers on April 13 when the second unit of Andre Miller, Al Harrington, Corey Brewer and JaVale McGee started to click. Since then, that unit has been a big part of Denver’s success lately.
LSL: With such a balanced attack is there one go-to player the Nuggets rely on in the clutch or is it a team effort each and every game?
JM: I think it is between Arron Afflalo, Danilo Gallinari and Ty Lawson. Afflalo may be the team’s most consistent player, but it is Gallinari and Lawson that are keys to this team’s success. And while they are great players, they aren’t studs and can’t always take over a game. However, when they are on Denver very rarely loses.
LSL: Do you think George Karl deserves some Coach of the Year love for the job he’s done?
JM: Oh definitely, I don’t think he gets the respect he deserves – especially from Denver fans. It is really overlooked what’s he has done with such a young, less-talented group, which have also battled through injuries and in-season changes. He is the main reason why this team is in the playoffs.
LSL: What’s your take on this team with JaVale McGee instead of Nene?
JM: McGee has done really well in his short time in Denver. He has much more length than Nene, better rebounder and is a much more imposing defensive presence in the post. However, I think it is overlooked how his minutes have been condensed since coming to Denver. In Washington he was playing 30-plus minutes, but in Denver he is playing much shorter, energetic spurts which limits his mental mistakes and allows him to play at a more free-styled pace and coming off the bench allows him to play loose and within the flow of the game.
LSL: Who is the Nugget that you think will become the X-factor in this series?
JM: Honestly, I can’t just label one player as the team’s X-factor. A number of players need to step up for Denver to have a shot at beating the Lakers.
Gallinari has struggled all season against the Lakers, and that is a big reason why L.A. took 3 of 4 games against Denver.
In the past, Lawson was the X-factor. But since being fouled by Bynum his rookie year Lawson hasn’t bee the same against the Lakers.
McGee has great size and length and if he can stay out of foul trouble and play smart he could at least slow Bynum.
LSL: Who wins this series and in how many games?
JM: I say Lakers in six. Denver always gets up for L.A., but with the lack of experience and how well Bynum is playing I don’t know if the Nuggets have enough to beat the Lakers. Not to mention Kobe Bryant has a knack for breaking hearts around the Mile High City.