That is right- it is JUST 4 and they will play this series one at a time. It starts with Game 1 tomorrow. Phil has never lost a series after winning Game 1, so statistics and history say that it might be a must win. We will know soon enough.
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JUST FOUR: how the Hornets overcome the Lake Show
This is not going to be easy. Many are predicting an ugly end to the Hornets season. However, this can be overcome.
First of all, The Hornets need to be IN! We’ve heard from Monty and Gil that the Hornets might not have believed that they can beat the Lakers. However, if I remember correctly, these are the same Lakers that endured a five game losing streak last week while chasing the #1 seed. These are same Lakers that were pushed hard by the Spurs’ 2nd teamers at Los Angeles and could have lost. They needed overtime to beat the friggin Sacramento Queens Wednesday night (Sorry Marcus!). Basically, the Lakers are not invincible and have lost five of their last seven games. The Hornets just need four out of seven. JUST FOUR!
However, the Hornets have some advantages in this series than they need to take full advantage of. Chris Paul is obviously the first guy that comes to mind. He needs to have average around 20 points, 11 assists, and 3 steals a game. I am taking into consideration that he will have one or two off games that lowers those numbers. I am also taking into consideration that the Lakers will not leave Fisher on him the whole game, but rather a longer defender. He needs to be able to punish Artest, Barnes, or whoever tries to guard him. The floater, mid-range jumper, and three-pointer all need to be on the mark and the turnovers need to stay low. He also needs to set up good shots for these guys…
I believe that Trevor Ariza is a better overall player than Ron Artest at this stage of their careers. He needs to play great defense on Kobe and make him take tough shots. On offense, it is pretty simple. He will be the guy that is left open. Ariza needs to knock down his 3s and draw fouls on the Lakers big men. Pretty much, he needs to play closer to how he played the last time he was in the playoffs. We know what Landry and Okafor will do when they are playing well and we need all of that. They need to be able to play around 35-40 minutes a game. To do that, they need to stay out of foul trouble and get the Lakers’ bigs into foul trouble. Attack Bynum’s injured knee! There is a 74.2% that he will reinjure himself at some point during this series! The X-factor is going to be bench. Jarrett Jack and Willie Green will need to play big time to offset the Lakers depth. They have proven capable in the past weeks. To win, they both need to shoot 45%+ from the field and close to 40% from 3. Beli will need to stay hot by hitting 50% or better from 3. Also, will Aaron Gray will need to be serviceable in the 10 minutes or so that he gets. He is the Hornets best bet to gather defensive rebounds and should get extended minutes if he can stay out of foul trouble.
The Hornets need take one game in LA this week. The Hornets are unlikely to win all of their home games in any scenario so they need to attack the Lakers while they are still figuring things out and Bynum is below 100%. If someone could slip Kobe some bad room service steak, that would help. Just kidding…he’d find a way to play through food poisoning. Game 1 is winnable. As I said, the Spurs reserves almost won a game there. However, the Lakers may be so overconfident if they win Game 1 that they let down in game 2, thus allowing the Hornets to steal one. Either way, just need one!
Games 3 and 4
If around 18,000 in the New Orleans Arena believe, that will make the team believe. This is what we can control as fans. It needs to be as loud in there as it was in the 07-08 playoffs. One of the most irritating moments of the playoffs for me was during the first Dallas game. There was an extremely loud Mavs fan sitting behind me in the lower end. If you remember, the Hornets stunk up the first half and that fan was in full force. The Hornets rallied and I barely heard a peep of him in the 3rd and 4th quarters amid the chaos. I turned my head back and stared at him with his head nodding and felt instant gratification! There was no way that Dallas was winning the series after that!
This is our house and we can’t let the Lakers or their fans bring us down!
The Hornets need to be at least 2-2 after four games. Houston lost Yao 2 years ago and was able to stay competitive. They had Carl Landry then and we have him now. I’m sure that he can share his experience with his new Hornets teammates on how they pushed the Lakers to seven games. However, they did not have a closer like Chris Paul to make Game 7 competitive. I have watched many Lakers games over the years. Kobe misses a lot more game-winning shots than he makes and ESPN has confirmed that to a large extent. With everything on the line and the Hornets up by 2 with 2.1 seconds left, Ariza harasses Kobe into an air ball 3-point attempt and the HORNETS shock the World, but not themselves. Winning this series come down to attitude! JUST FOUR!
This post was submitted by Chung.