The Los Angeles Lakers‘ run in the playoffs has stunned everyone. They appear to be title-bound as well. They didn’t expect to make it to the Western Conference Finals, but they are about to get respect. They had a terrible start to the year and nearly lost their chance to compete in the play-in event. Fans had been excluded from all ongoing and upcoming title discussions. But right now, they appear to be in charge.
Western Conference Finals are set mark your calendar pic.twitter.com/w6j1gDQGps
Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) May 14, 2023
Through 82 games, Rob Pelinka and Darvin Ham have demonstrated their abilities. They realized that rather than depending on veterans, they needed role players. A shipment of Russell Westbrook was made before the trading deadline. Along with backup centers Rui Hachimura and Thomas Bryant, the Lakers also acquired former Lakers D Angelo Russell and Dennis Schr der. Los Angeles has transformed from having one of the weakest rosters of the season into a strong defensive club.
Up until this point, things have gone well for the Denver Nuggets. As the last surviving top seed in the playoffs, they had the best record overall in the Western Conference. The club with the best chance of winning the championship, the Phoenix Suns, were destroyed by the Denver Nuggets. In this postseason, Devin Booker and Kevin Durant were having a historic run, but Nikola Jokic put a halt to their antics.
Nuggets playoff basketball pic.twitter.com/k9LcmHpgbR
Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) May 13, 2023
Throughout the series, Jamal Murray also had a prominent part. He scored 24.8 points on average while also having a few offensively explosive performances. Jokic recorded three triple-doubles, including one with 56 points that knocked the Suns off their game plan. All four Conference Finalists from 2020 have returned to the stage in an extremely rare occurrence. It goes without saying that this series will be incredibly engaging.
Will the Los Angeles Lakers outclass the Denver Nuggets for the second time in the Western Conference Finals?
Although there is some history between the two clubs, the Los Angeles Lakers have prevailed over the Denver Nuggets. The Lakers have won 113 games in 189 contests while the Nuggets have only managed 76 triumphs. In the playoffs, LA has a 75% success percentage against Denver. The Lakers came out on top in both of their most recent WCF matches. One was in 2010 with Kobe Bryant, and the other was in 2010 with LeBron James. Denver also has no playoff series victories over the Lakers. Seven playoff series were split between them.
last time the Lakers and Nuggets faced each other in the conference finals pic.twitter.com/WVQZPBp7fo
LakeShowYo (@LakeShowYo) May 14, 2023
The apparent danger to the Nuggets is LeBron James. In addition to averaging 23.4 points, 10 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 0.9 steals, and 1.3 blocks a game, he has also averaged 1.3 blocks and 10.3 rebounds. Averaging 21.2 points, 14.1 rebounds, 1.4 steals, and 3.3 blocks per game, Anthony Davis has also been outstanding. However, during the playoffs, their supporting cast members will be crucial. Before trading Westbrook, D Lo and Austin Reeves had never shot 34.7% and 39.7% from three, respectively. Both players have demonstrated dependability on offense.
The biggest issue for the Lakers is how much more powerful the Nuggets are offensively. All five starters averaging double digits in points. Jokic leads the team with 30.7 points, 12.8 rebounds, and 9.7 assists per game. Murray put up 25.9 points in the playoffs so far backed with 5.2 rebounds 6.5 assists, and 1.3 steals per game. He is their biggest weapon at this point.
Aaron Gordon, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Michael Porter Jr. have all contributed significantly as backup scorers and defenders. The Lakers continue to play better defense than the Nuggets, just as they did in 2020. Jokic might find it difficult to play with AD around, therefore the Lakers will have the advantage.