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lunes, 19 de enero de 2009

NBA: A GREAT DUEL (article in English and Español)

We will have a great game tonight at the Staples Center in Los Angeles between the leader of the Western Conference-Los Angeles Lakers (record of 31-8) - and the leader of the Eastern Conference-Cleveland Cavaliers (record of 31-7, thanks to its record of 20-0 at home)-, which can be understood as a duel between the 2 candidates-of course we can not forget Dwyane Wade, Dwight Howard and Paul Pierce- to be the MVP of the NBA 2008-09, Kobe Bryant and Lebron James .
So, it is a very important game, which is the first of a Cleveland´s difficult upcoming games-Cavs will play during the next 10 days very complicated games at Los Angeles, Portland, Utah, Orlando and Detroit- in which it will seek to show that it is a serious candidate to be the NBA´s Champion this season. Although the main interest will be the particular duel between Kobe (27.2 points-47% FGP, 36.5% 3PP and 86.4% FTP, 5.5 rebounds and 5 assists this season) and Lebron (27. 8 points per game, 50% FGP, 29% 3PP 78% FTP, 7.1 rebounds and 6.7 assists this season), we believe that the key to decide the winner of this game will be the performance of other players.

On the one hand, we believe it will be very important to decide the winner, the performance of the Lakers´s players in the paint, since Bynum and Pau Gasol must play very concentrated and with great determination to exploit the weaknesses of the Cavs´s play in the paint(Cleveland has injured the Lithuanian center Zydrunas Ilgauskas, who is the best Cavs´s offensive center-13.5 points, 51% FGP, 7 rebounds, 1.2 blocks- and it only has in this position, "Big Ben” Wallace and Anderson Varejão, who are good defensive players, showing intensity and work -14 rebounds per game between both-, but offensively their performance are very poor, although I must say that Varejao is gradually improving his shot, but still ... he must improve to be a better player) and to make a great job with the defensive rebounds to avoid that players like Lebron James and Mo Williams can have second chances to score, because if it can be difficult to see a Lebron or Mo´s mistake, what can we expect when in the same attack they have several shots ( Mo Williams is playing very well, taking advantage of the strong defences over Lebron, and he is getting very good numbers and percentages: 16 points per game-46% FGP and 93% in FTP and besides 4 assists and 3 rebounds - becoming the second alternative in the Cavs´s attack and counteracting the Wally Szczerbiak´s bad level during this season-he is playing 19 minutes per game with only 6 points per game-)-obviously it will also be important to try to stop Lebron the work of Trevor Ariza, player who is synonymous of concentration, intensity and defensive vision-his numbers are this season: 9 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists and especially we must remark that he is the 8th best player in the league in steals per game (1.74) and 2nd in number of steals per 48 minutes (3.4) and the number of steals per turnovers(1.62)-.
Besides the play in the paint, we should pay attention to the play of the guard of both teams too, because on one hand Los Angeles Lakers can arrive to this game without Jordan Farman-his absence is sure- and without the Slovenian Sasha Vujacic-he is doubtful until the last minute-, which will produce that the veteran Derek Fisher-he is 34 year´s old-, must play all the game, which is not a very good news, cause Fisher is not in his best moment and he starts to show fatigue and of course his performance is not very satisfactory in some games, as for example the last played when he finished with 9 points (3-11 in FG) in 41 minutes played. On the other hand, the Cavs also have problems in this position since last Thursday, during the game played against Chicago Bulls, the guard in the starting lineup Delonte West was injured (the Delonte´s numbers are this season: 12.3 points-he is improving his percentages: 46% FGP, 40% 3P, 83%FTP- and 3.5 assists per game), which is a serious problem for the coach Mike Brown, because during this 5 or 6 weeks in which Delonte will be out, we will see Mo Williams as the playmaker-this is not his best role-of the starting lineup, in which we will see the incorporation of the "forgotten" Sasha Pavlovic-the Serbian was having a horrible season, without many chances to play and besides he was showing a very poor performance, but last Friday he had a chance to play again in the starting lineup and he showed that Mike Brown can be calm because the Slovenian played like he made last years and he showed a great performance during Friday´s game against New Orleans Hornets, since his numbers were 19 points with 4-4 in 3P-.
Anyway, a game, in which besides the performance of Kobe and Lebron, the “small details” will have great importance to decide the winner, which should be Los Angeles Lakers, specially if it takes care the paint and it imposes its power in the paint. At 10:30 PM ET (4:30 CET) at the Staples, we will have the outcome.
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