Lakers vs Nuggets series preview
The Lakers have had a great playoff run and now take on the Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals. This is a rematch of the 2020 Conference Finals in the bubble, where LA won the series in five games.
It will be a different series this time around. Denver has a ton of depth around Nikola Jokic. Jamal Murray is playing the best basketball he has since 2020. They also have guys like Michael Porter Jr, Aaron Gordon, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Bruce Brown, and more.
"They're a better team. Obviously, they're more experienced... We come in with the utmost respect for this team."— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) May 15, 2023
LeBron James on the difference between the Nuggets team they faced in the 2020 WCF vs. their current team
While the Grizzlies and defending champion Warriors were tough opponents, the Nuggets will be the toughest challenge yet for LA.
Denver is the number one seed in the Western Conference, as they finished with a 53-29 record in the regular season. The Nuggets have defeated the Timberwolves and Suns in their first two series. They are led by their center, Jokic, one of the best players in the league.
The two-time MVP is averaging 31/13/10 in the playoffs and will be hard to stop. He is a great scorer but excels at finding open teammates. This makes him a tough player to guard; if you bring help to defend him, he will pick apart the defense and find the open man.
Anthony Davis is proving to be the best defensive player in the league with this playoff run. Davis will be matched up against Jokic and is the best option in the NBA to defend him. It won’t be easy, even though Davis is an elite defender.
That time Anthony Davis hit a game-winner against the Nuggets in the WCF back in the bubble 😤 pic.twitter.com/7zw8h2z493— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) May 13, 2023
On the other side, Jokic will likely defend Davis. This is where Davis can take advantage. Jokic has been a solid defender this postseason, but it’s not what he is known for. If Davis is aggressive and sets the tone on both sides of the ball, it will go a long way in the Lakers winning the series.
One thing to watch in this matchup is foul trouble. It would be a big momentum swing if Davis could force Jokic into foul trouble. Conversely, if Jokic forces Davis into foul trouble, it would spell trouble for the Lakers.
LA will also need LeBron James to have his best series of the postseason. The four-time NBA champion knows what it takes to get to the NBA Finals, as he has done so ten times in his career.
WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS GAME 1 🔥 pic.twitter.com/0l941cJuIL— Lakers All Day Everyday (@LADEig) May 16, 2023
Outside of the star duo of Davis and James, the Lakers will need consistent production from their role players.
They will need D’Angelo Russell, Austin Reaves, Dennis Schroder, Rui Hachimura, and Jarred Vanderbilt to make a big contribution to the series.
With the Nuggets being one of the most complete teams in the league, with a ton of depth, the Lakers will need contributions outside of their stars.
Game 1 of the series is tonight in Denver. The Lakers will need to come out with a sense of urgency to steal Game 1 on the road.