Look for us to win tonight. We will be running of off a lot of excitement from having both Fox and Shaq back, that alone should be able to allow us to cruise to victory.
Payton gets to play against his former team, again. This time he will be in LA, look for him to have a more comfortable game and a big game. Daniels is more of a SG, so Payton dominating him is very likely. Payton will finally have Shaq to throw the ball to in the paint, so he can get some more assists. I expect for Payton to do a lot of movement without the ball, too. He will dish it to Shaq, run around picks, cut to the basket, or wait for them to double or triple team him and take advantage of getting open and knock down some easy baskets.
Allen has been killing us, since I can remember. Kobe dropped 32 points last time they met, so I expect both of them to be the main guys in this game. They will both go into over drive in the 4th and get most of their points in the final period of play. Kobe needs to have a very good game tonight, especially since Shaq will be playing hurt or recovering from being hurt and Malone is out. We need a very aggressive Kobe
George will struggle with this matchup, Lewis can get hot and go off with not much effort, also he is bigger, and will not allow George to get many shots. Russell's D will be needed in this game, when Fox comes off the bench, then that will be huge, he will give whatever unit he plays with an instant spark.
Slava has been playing great, since all of our players have gotten hurt, he has perhaps been the most stable player on the team. Now time to see if he can continue to have that type of success with Shaq back in the line up. Hopefully, this means Slava doesn't have to worry about rebounding and defense as much, since the house will be protected. I think Slava will have a good night from the field, and James shouldn't be too much of a defensive challenge for him, especially with Shaq having his back.
Now this is what we al have been waiting for, the return of the one and only Shaq. Even though I doubt Shaq will have a huge game since he will be playing hurt, which will hamper his jumping, which means fewer points & rebounds, but him just being out there will be very big for us. Guys won't take it to the hole, we will get more rebounds, and he will give us a morale boost. It will be big for the team if Shaq can dish it to Payton and Kobe for the easy basket, since he will be double teamed (at least), if he does that then I will be satisfied with his playing tonight.