The Los Angeles Lakers have enjoyed a five-day break filled with practices and mixed scouting, and they will now take on the Denver Nuggets for the Western Conference crown in Game One. No one had it in the cards that the Lakers would match with this particular opponent, but that doesn’t matter at this point. They have a chance to take the franchise back to a glory that they have not experienced in 10 years, just as they have advanced to the conference finals. All-NBA selections LeBron James and Anthony Davis, amongst others, can secure a win in their first Western Conference Finals game in their career.
Points On The Board
The Lakers come into this game averaging 95 points per game in both game ones in the playoffs. The low scoring outputs in both games have resulted in losses. The sweet spot would be scoring 110 points or more to control the game. The Lakers have scored 110 or more points in every playoff win so far. The math may seem simple, but they will have to keep the Nuggets from doing the same.
Appropriate Fear of Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic
Damian Lillard and James Harden are arguably the two best scoring guards in the league and the Lakers did a decent job containing them. You can add Jamal Murray to this discussion as he comes in averaging 27.1 points per game including two 50-point performances and 40 points in their game seven win against the Los Angeles Clippers. Murray is much more unique than most guards because of his chemistry with All-NBA big manAll-NBA big man Nikola Jokic. Jokic might be the best passing center of all-time which will make it difficult for the Lakers to blitz Murray in the same fashion as they did Dame and The Beard. Jokic leads all centers in NBA history with 41 triple-doubles. It is going to take an extremely disciplined approach from each of the five players that will share the floor with both of the Nuggets’ stars.
Back To The Basics
The last series called for some tinkering by Lakers Head Coach Frank Vogel. We saw a lot of Markieff Morris and Anthony Davis anchoring the paint. This time around we will likely see JaVale McGee back at starting center and more Dwight Howard. The two offer a combination of strength and athleticism that could be employed to fluster Jokic in this series opener. The Lakers size is their greatest strength and to get the chance to return to this could mean a much better Game One showing than the previous two rooms.
The Lakers are scheduled to tip-off action on Friday night at 9 PM EST/6 PM PST.