There’s a certain sense of inevitability when it comes to the Denver Nuggets, and the Los Angeles Lakers have been taking the brunt of it.

In their two postseason games thus far, the Lakers have managed to take large leads over the Nuggets and in Game 2, they seemed poised to tie the series with Denver heading back to Los Angeles.

But then, Jamal Murray and the Nuggets had other plans. They kept chipping at the Laker lead throughout the second half and in doing so, Denver gave themselves a puncher’s chance, something Murray did not let go to waste.

Los Angeles must be feeling a lot of emotions right now. They had the best first half an opponent could have against the Nuggets in Denver. Anthony Davis continued his stellar play. D’Angelo Russell rediscovered his shooting touch. Even wrestling moves couldn’t stop Lebron James from scoring in the paint.


But all of it went for naught because of the loss.

The blueprint to beat Nuggets is there for everyone to see, but that doesn’t take away from them being a complex matchup. After all, executing that blueprint is another matter.

Denver is a well-oiled machine orchestrated by Nikola Jokic, who had a double-double with quite a lot of time left in the second quarter and finished with a triple-double of 27 points, 20 rebounds, and 10 assists. Get a key player like Kentavious Caldwell-Pope into foul trouble and the likes of Christian Braun and Petyon Watson will step up.

For the Nuggets it’s also about giving themselves a chance. They keep the game close until the offense gets hot. Rather than double or triple teams, Denver also forces opponents to veer away from what has worked for them. These have been the tenets of the Nuggets’ philosophy in their bid for back-to-back championships.

The results speak for themselves as despite Denver’s offensive struggles in the early portions of both games, the Nuggets have never been out of it. The Lakers shouldn’t have expected Denver to fold over a 20-point lead, more so given that Jokic seems like Thanos and Murray can get hot whenever the stakes get higher.

If anything, Los Angeles really went away from what got them to stymie the Nuggets, and with it the win as well. Much has been said about the fouls in the Lakers’ favor and against them along with Los Angeles head coach Darvin Ham’s reference to the calls and non-calls (although he did try to say that it’s not an excuse but it may be too late for that), but they should have instead adjusted to how the game was called. After all, the margins for the fouls (20 for Lakers while Denver committed 17) and the free throws (17-13 in favor of the Nuggets) weren’t much. Another Los Angeles foul here or there may have stopped a key play for Denver, but it may be too late to cry over spilled milk at this point.

Instead, they should use Game 2 as fuel for Games 3 and 4, a sentiment shared by Ham after the game. That the Lakers can take big leads over the Nuggets certainly means they can stay with them, but we all know it’s who’s on top in the end that matters. At this point, Los Angeles must trust themselves in getting out of this 2-0 hole. Besides, it’s belief that helped their opponents on the other side overcome everything the Lakers have thrown at them.