Western Conference finals get off on Tuesday, and Lebron James and the L.A Lakers will want to advance against a difficult battle from Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets.
The Lakers, who struggled during the regular season, eliminated the reigning champion Golden State Warriors on Friday and are now just four victories away from returning to the NBA Finals.
In preparation for Tuesday’s series opener against the top-seeded Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals, Lebron James and Lakers defensive standout Anthony Davis are planning an ambush.
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This is a rematch from the NBA’s Covid-19 bubble in Orlando in 2020, when the Lakers defeated the Nuggets 4-1 en route to their 16th NBA title.
However, the Nuggets have come a long way since then, with Jokic capturing NBA MVP honors in 2021 and 2022 as a member of a squad that also features the brilliant Jamal Murray.
On Monday, James said he is confident the 2023 Denver Nuggets will be a formidable opponent.
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When asked to compare Denver to the squad they lost to in Florida three years ago, James responded, “They’re a better team.”
They have greater experience, that much is clear. They have taken advantage of every opportunity to develop as a brand and a team in every game, every playoff, and every matchup.
“So, we approach this challenge and this game with the utmost respect for this squad that we’re playing against.
The Nuggets won their most recent matchup against the Lakers on January 9 to even the season series at two wins apiece.
However, those results are mostly worthless now that the Lakers have completely revamped their squad during the midseason trade window and James and Davis did not play in the most recent match in January.
Davis stated the team would study film from the upcoming 2020 series against Denver to counteract Jokic and the Nuggets’ starting lineup.
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“I think the most significant key will be making the ball find the guys we want it to find, just playing off of that,” Davis said.
Even though the Lakers have been on fire in the playoffs thanks to Davis’s timely return to form, James insists he has no delusions about the magnitude of his team’s challenge.
James remarked, “There’s a reason they’ve been the best team out west.”
They have been outstanding on the basketball court this season. And we’ll treat their baseball team with the highest reverence while we do so. We know the dynamic Joker [Jokic] brings to the game, and with Jamal Murray fit again, they have a lot of firepower. Not to mention the rest of that crew.
Jokic averaged 34.5 points, 10.3 assists, and 13.2 rebounds in the series triumph against Phoenix, putting him in prime shape for Tuesday’s series start.
Darvin Ham, coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, referred to Jokic as “that monster in the Rocky Mountains that’s waiting on us.”
Ham remarked, “You’re talking about a two-time MVP, with a well-balanced squad that’s hungry, has great synergy and chemistry, and possesses tremendous talent, athleticism, and shooting.”
So, we’ve got our job cut out for us, but they’ve got to watch out for us, too, so we’ll do our homework like we usually do and come into Game 1 ready to play.
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