Los Angeles Lakers: Denver’s 4 adjustments for Game 2

(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /
5 of 5
Los Angeles Lakers
(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) – Los Angeles Lakers /

Adjustment #4: play mostly zone

This season’s Miami Heat has legitimized zone defense in the NBA. For decades, defenses either had to stay on their man or double-team the ball. The rules were softened over time. Defenders are still not allowed to stay in the paint for more than three seconds.

Side note: I hope this rule is scrapped in the offseason. Defensive three-seconds made sense back when Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell were averaging 20 blocks a game. Now with everybody shooting three’s, this rule is outdated.

Miami’s zone has their two forwards on top of the zone; their guards defend the first pass to the wing. The center hangs at the basket as usual.

The Nuggets would be better served mainly playing zone in this series. They have no one who can individually matchup with LeBron James or Anthony Davis.

They have done this before. Albeit out of necessity. During the scrimmages, Denver played a standard 2/3 zone when they only had eight guys. 6’8” Jerami Grant was their shortest guy. Jokic was their point guard. Bol Bol was their shooting guard.

I am not suggesting they do this again. The Lakers are better at Macro Ball. At minimum, playing zone benefits helps Denver out with dribble-drives and protects them from foul trouble.

Jamal Murray, Nikola Jokic, and Paul Millsap picked up three fouls in the first half. They have to try something different.

In a traditional 2/3 zone, Bol will end up defending the high post while Jokic and Jerami Grant will have his back in the paint. With Denver’s front line collapsing in the paint, the Lakers will end up taking a bunch of corner threes.

The Lakers shot 11/26 (42.3%) from three-point range in Game 1. Series over if the Lakers continue to shoot at that percentage.

Denver knows this. They will look to take away the Lakers’ strength inside.

Will they succeed? Let’s find out!

Next. Morris increasing odds of Kuzma trade. dark

On to Game 2!