After handling the Rockets in their semifinals series, the Lakers had plenty of time to rest and practice before getting ready for their next opponent. Surprisingly, the Denver Nuggets came back from a 3-1 deficit against the Los Angeles Clippers to advance to the Conference Finals against the Lakers.
The Lakers will have their hands fulls with a Nuggets team that isn’t afraid of any team and are well aware they can come back in a game at any given time. The Nuggets are led by their point guard Jamal Murray and big man Nikola Jokic. Murray is very explosive offensively and runs the offense. The Lakers are going to have to play strong perimeter defense and try to run him off the 3-pt line. The Nuggets have shooters on their team, just like the Lakers last opponent, the Houston Rockets. Murray is averaging 27ppg, 6.4 apg, and 5.0 rpg in the NBA playoffs. Stopping him is going to be a big task.
Then you have Nikola Jokic who has played tremendous in the series against the Clippers. He’s a big that is versatile and can shoot from the outside or post up in the paint. His strongest suit is his perimeter game. He also rebounds very well due to his height and size. He is averaging 10.8 rebounds per game in the playoffs. The Lakers are also versatile themselves with their roster. They can throw Anthony Davis on him who is their most skilled big man. They also have JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard whom can be physical and wear him down.
LeBron James and Anthony Davis are going to have to be great in this series more so than their previous series. The deeper the team goes in the postseason, the harder it becomes. James is going to be have to be aggressive from the start and try to get his teammates involved early. They have to make the Nuggets scramble on defense. It’s imperative that Anthony Davis have a big series on both ends of the floor. For the Lakers to win this Conference Finals, the key is that they have to neutralize Jokic. I believe the Lakers will do so by having Davis, McGee, and Howard on him defensively. Players like Green, KCP, and Caruso have to drive off their shooters from the 3-pt line. When the Lakers get locked in defensively, they are very hard to score on as seen in their series against the Blazers and Rockets.
Lakers must get on the fast break as much as possible. That has been their bread and butter all season long. The Nuggets just played a 7-game series, so the Lakers have to take advantage of that. I expect this is going to be a tough and grueling Conference Finals against a opponent that has shown resiliency. In the end, with the firepower the Lakers have, they will be victorious in 6 games.