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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, May 11, 2012 at 10:43 PM

Las Vegas bettors We have a Game Seven! After enduring a first round that had some drama but was lacking in big surprises outside of top seed Chicago losing early because of a tragic injury, we now have a truly dramatic GAME SEVEN SHOWDOWN between the Denver Nuggets and the Los Angeles Lakers.

At stake:

*Kobe’s reputation as a champion. He’s won a few rings already, and was able to get the “couldn’t win without Shaq” monkey off his back. But, his reputation this year has taken a big hit because he’s seemingly standing in the way of Andrew Bynum’s development and the best interests of his team. He wants to shoot the ball all the time regardless of whether or not there are better options. He wants to keep clanging treys off the rim because he figures, every so often, a few will go in and he’ll look like a hero. The press has turned on him. His passionate local fan base is grumbling as well.

*Bynum’s potential to be the superstar center of the new era. He’s been coming into his own after too many years of immaturity. But, the scowling kid look on his face keeps showing up way too much. Do you remember Kareem Abdul-Jabbar ever pouting? The lack of defensive effort from Bynum in the last two games has been troubling. And, it looks to be directly connected to him not getting the ball enough on offense. If he can’t get his touches, he’s not going to hustle on defense. That’s not the stuff heroes are made of (outside of New York, where it guarantees you a huge contract).

*Mike Brown’s future as a head coach. He’s already seen as a the guy who couldn’t win a championship with LeBron James. Should the Lakers lose Saturday Night, he’ll add “choked a 3-1 series lead with Kobe Bryant” on his resume. Brown is better than his naysayers think…but he may not be cut out to be a top end coach in this league.

*Metta World Peace’s future. The former Ron Artest returns to the floor after a long suspension. If he’s the hero (particularly the defensive hero) of a decisive win, then all will temporarily be forgotten through the rest of the postseason. If he struggles because of rust…then he becomes a focal point of blame for this first round debacle because his absence kept it from being a shorter affair. He’s probably already contaminated goods in terms of playing for any other teams. Who could touch him if the Lakers were outed by Denver?

And, that’s just the Lakers side of the coin! George Karl would love to have a breakthrough win so he’s seen as a coach who can win the big game rather than one who peaks in the regular season. There are several young stars on the Nuggets who are trying to build personal legacies. Winning 5-6-7 with two games in Los Angeles would surely boost their profiles. And, you just know this team wants to last at least a round longer than Carmelo Anthony did in New York!

Let’s run the numbers and see how things might play out…

 

LA LAKERS vs. DENVER

Game Seven Vegas Line: Lakers by 6, total of 196.5

Series tied 3-3

The return of Metta World Peace, and the general market preference for home teams in a seventh game has lifted this line up to Lakers by six after the others in the series sat on 4.5, 5, and 6. Yes, it matches Game Five…but the Lakers have been trending downward while the Nuggets have been surging. We hear from those in the know that the Lakers would have been -4.5 or -6 here if not for the return of Metta.

The total of 196.5 is high for a seventh game, but low for the recent form of this series, which has seen scoreboard finals of 209 and 201 the last two games. JIM HURLEY will be thinking about the Under here because the return of Metta World Peace brings more defense and less offense to the festivities.

 

GAME SIX SUMMARY

DENVER 113, LA LAKERS 96

Field Goal Pct: Lakers 42%, Denver 52%

Three-Pointers: Lakers 4/14, Denver 10/20

Free Throws: Lakers 22/30, Denver 9/17

Rebounds: Lakers 42, Denver 47

Turnovers: Lakers 11, Denver 11

Vegas Line: Denver by 2.5, total of 196

This wasn’t much of a game. Denver jumped out to a big early lead by nailing a bunch of treys. The Lakers defense didn’t fight back very hard because they were so tired from the previous pace of the series…and because there’s no reason to exhaust yourself at altitude when you’ll probably have a Game Seven at home two days later. No motivation for anyone to come back except for Kobe, who’s still obsessed with scoring points for his history book rankings even when a game is a lost cause. That was something wasn’t it? Sick as a dog, but he kept right on shooting in a blowout. We appreciate the warrior mentality. If he runs out of gas in the fourth quarter of Game Seven, he’ll have only himself to blame.

The key to handicapping this game in our view is to figure out these two keys:

*How much of a positive (if any) will the return of Metta provide?

*How tired are the Lakers right now after playing an up tempo series with a short rotation that included three games at altitude?

The Lakers can definitely win and cover this game if they’re refreshed and Metta World Peace provides intense hustle on defense (which is generally his trademark). The Lakers can get run out of the gym again if the legs are gone. The former Artest isn’t much of a scorer. The Lakers cant’ win if they can’t get points up on the board.

JIM HURLEY does have a strong opinion in this game based on several factors within NETWORK’S exclusive TEAM HANDICAPPING approach.

*His SCOUTS AND SOURCES have reported meaningful information from Los Angeles…

*His STAT HANDICAPPERS have uncovered keys in the last two boxscores that should foreshadow what’s about to happen Saturday Night…

*His SYSTEMS GUYS have studied previous Game Seven’s from up-tempo series (because they’re different than Game Seven’s in a low tempo series)…

*His WISE GUY CONNECTIONS have alerted the team to the game day smart money strategy that you will see played out in the market in the hours leading up to tip off.

It’s all come together ideally, in a way that will make JIM HURLEY’S release a true MONSTER! You can purchase it Saturday here at this website with your credit card (and check game day box ads for word on Game One of Philadelphia-Boston!). If you have any questions, call our office at 1-800-323-4453. Note that Saturday features a great baseball slate too. Among the games we’re looking at closely are:

LA Angels at Texas on FOX

NY Mets at Miami on FOX

Atlanta at St. Louis

Tampa Bay at Baltimore

Cleveland at Boston

A lot of great stuff all weekend in the bases (note that Atlanta/St. Louis will be the TBS game on Sunday, with LAA/Texas getting the nod as the prime time game on ESPN). Even though we don’t have much time at the moment to talk baseball here in the NOTEBOOK, be aware that JIM HURLEY is posting BIG, JUICY WINNERS on a daily basis. And, baseball is easier to beat when oddsmakers are worrying about another sport! That’s just as true during the NBA playoffs as it is when football starts in September.

It’s CRUNCH TIME in the Nuggets/Lakers series…and it’s CASH TIME for all the clients of JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!

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