November 1st, 2006 - Golden State Warriors versus Los Angeles Lakers
Key Matchup = SF
LAL - Lamar Odom does it all for the Lakers. Last season, he was among their tops in scoring, assists, rebounds, and blocks. If Kobe Bryant is played sparingly (due to his knee injury), expect Lamar to step his game up big time. Odom plays his best basketball when Bryant isn't in the lineup. If Kobe minutes are under 30, expect Lamar to end the game with around 20 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists.
GSW - This will be a big opportunity for Mickael Pietrus, whose always felt he deserved a starting role. Nelly's been raving about him since training camp (even though his preseason showings were characteristically sporatic). Now is Pietrus' chance to prove his worth; by getting a start in the season's opener. Because Pietrus will be trying to make an impression, I expect over 11 field goal attempts from the young Frenchman (although his up-and-down results make the percentage of those shots impossible to predict).
Defense. Neither team is stellar. Last year, the advantage would clearly go to the Lakers... but Nelly's overwhelming scoring-style might make defense, for a team like Golden State, obsolete. If the game turns into a shoot-out, the Warriors are at an advantage (even though Los Angeles has the best gunner - Bryant).
First to 100 points. Without slow, grinding defense, things will likely degenerate into a slugfest. The first team to reach a c-note is my favorite to take the contest.
Perimeter dominance. Aside from Ike Diogu (GSW) and Andrew Bynum (LAL), no team has any real post threat. Diogu and Bynum are both currently struggling for minutes. Its likely the quicker, smaller players will dominate this game.
A coaches battle. Don Nelson and Phil Jackson are both equally great head coaches, but their styles are polar opposites. Jax enjoys an organize, scientific, post-match on offense, whereas Nelly prefers to run. The one common ground they share is an inexpicable love for the 'point forward'... and, as it stands, Lamar Odom is currently head and shoulders better than Mike Dunleavy Jr (GSW).
GSW (112) - LAL (96)
Points: Richardson (29) / Bryant (34)
Rebounds: Murphy (14) / Odom (10)
Assists: Davis (11) / Parker (6)
Steals: Pietrus (2) / Parker (2)
Blocks: Biedrins (3) / Mihm & Odom (1)
Turnovers: Davis (4) / Parker (4)
Fouls: Biedrins (5) / Mihm (4)
Minutes: Davis (36) / Bryant (38)