The Lakers (2-1)
The Hornets (3-0)
1. Chris Paul
2. Low-post Play
3. T - E - A - M
Chris Paul is arguably the best PG in the NBA. And if you disagree, check back by next season. Paul can put up a triple double on any given night and he is an adequate (though rarely more) defender. There is no secret that Derek Fisher lacks the footspeed he had prior to ankle issues and he is a decade older than Paul, but Fisher has three things working in his favor. First, Fisher is bulky and strong. He can lean on Paul all day and make Paul work for everything he gets. Second, Fisher is a veteran with savvy. Expect him to draw at least one charge tonight. Third, Fisher has heart like few in the league. Expect to see him aggressively pursuing Paul, diving after loose balls, and creating havoc.
West and Chandler can both score and rebound. This poses problems because LA is lacking their best rebounder. LA will likely be smashed on the boards tonight so LA must force NO to take jumpers and increase the odds of missed shots. That is no small order with Chris Paul running the show. Look for a lot of energy from Turiaf, but he must watch his fouls against a good scorer. Kwame Brown cannot JUST play D tonight. He must be active in the offense. Expect Bynum to receive extended minutes (20+) to work on the offensive side against Chandler.
T - E - A - M
No way the Lakers win without several players getting into the mix, both scoring the ball and playing defense. This defense feeds off of getting involved on the offensive end so look for D-Fish and Kobe to get the guys involved early and often. Kwame must handle the passes or he could throw everything out of sync. Look for high energy play, lots of blocked shots both ways, and Kobe to be a vocal leader on the court.