Kobe Bryant is only one ring away from tying Michael Jordan with six, and he has already said that anything short of a championship this season will be unacceptable. But does the Black Mamba have the players around him to get it done?

How the Lakers can win: Let your 7-footers dominate. Kobe is the key in any game/series the Lakers play in. However, the Lakers have a huge advantage when playing both Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol at the same time. The Nuggets are terribly undersized in the front court, and the Lakers should look to exploit this advantage. Also, the Lakers need to slow the game down. Denver will look to run at every opportunity, as youth and athleticism may be the only advantage the Nuggets have. As long as the Lakers don’t let the series turn into a track meet, they should be able to take care of business.

How the Nuggets can win: Run, run, run. The Lakers have shown throughout the past few seasons they struggle with young teams that can run. Denver has to use their advantage of speed if they want to compete in this series. Denver has no true “superstar,” so spreading the ball around and getting key players Ty Lawson and Danilo Gallinari will also be important. This team struggles with whom to give the ball to in crunch time, so it is critical for the Nuggets to build on any lead they have and sustain it throughout the end of the game.

Our prediction: The Lakers won the season series 3-1, and the only time Denver won Kobe shot an abysmal 6-for-28. I don’t think they can count on him to do that throughout this series. Although the Lakers have an advantage at almost every position, Denver is a scrappy team that plays extremely well at home where the air is thin. The Lakers win this series, but not before the Nuggets give the Los Angeles fans a bit of a sweat. Lakers win 4-2.