May 18: The Lakers needed 7 games to eliminate the Rockets and will have just 2 days of rest before facing the Denver Nuggets in the 2009 Western Conference Finals.
Lakers and Nuggers have played 4 times in playoffs, including the Conference Finals of 1985 and a 4-0 swept last year. The Lakers won every time with a total of 12 wins and 2 losses.
The arrival of Chauncy Billups from Detroit in a midseason trade for Allen Iverson transformed the Nuggets who so far have lost only two games in these playoffs. They defeated the Hornets 4-1 and the Marvericks also 4-1.
The keys to the series:
- Pau Gasol who was great in game 7 against the Rockets with 21 points and 18 rebounds will have to continue being agressive in the post where he will have to deal with Kenyon Martin's defense.
- Kobe Bryant will surely be happy to have left Artest and Battier in the past.
- Trevor Ariza will try to stop Denver's top scorer Carmelo Anthony.
- Will Andrew Bynum stay out of foul trouble and raise his game after struggling against undersized centers against the Jazz and Rockets? Nene and the "Birdman" Chris Andersen have the answer.