This isn’t the series many of us wanted, but it’s the one we deserve. The teams that battle hardest are the ones that are now in the Western Conference Finals.
2020 is really that weird year befitting of a Twilight Zone episode, especially after the Denver Nuggets hurled Kawhi Leonard and the LA Clippers out of the window in the second round of the playoffs.
Lebron James and the Los Angeles Lakers have already been waiting after trouncing the Houston Rockets 4-1. Catch this game live on Saturday at 9 AM, Manila time.
HOME TEAM: #1 Los Angeles Lakers (0-0)
Whether they admit it or not, the Lakers were expecting a different opponent in the Western Conference Finals.
Instead, they’ll be meeting the Nuggets in the seven-game series. The Lakers are 3-1 this season against Denver. The last time these two teams squared off, the Lakers came away with a 124-121 win last month, with LeBron James scoring 29 points and dishing out 12 dimes.
The Nuggets will have problems trying to slow down James, who averaged 28.7 points in his last three games against Denver.
But they also have to worry about Anthony Davis (29.3 PPG, 9.3 RPG in four games vs. Denver this season). Davis and Jokic can cancel out each other on offense, but the Nuggets don’t have the frontcourt depth the Lakers have.
Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee are capable bigs who can slow down or help tire out the Serbian. Plus, Jokic isn’t as much of an asset on defense as Davis is.
Davis has a superior defensive rating of so far in the playoffs, and opponents are scoring 113 points per 100 possessions when Jokic is on the floor.
ROAD TEAM: #3 Denver Nuggets (0-0)
Maybe the Nuggets have the cure to what ails the world this year, as they have done nothing but perform miracles since the playoffs kicked off.
The Nuggets were left for dead by the Utah Jazz in the first round and the LA Clippers in the second round, but somehow found a way to overcome two 3-1 deficits in back-to-back series.
Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic have been fantastic, to say the least, in the playoffs for Denver. Murray is averaging 27.1 points this postseason, while Jokic is scoring 25.4 points per game. Both players are shooting over 50 FG% and 40 3FG%. But to beat the Lakers, someone has to be step up other than those two for the Nuggets.
Michael Porter Jr. seems to the guy who is willing to be just that. But Gary Harris could be the one to tip the scales in Denver’s favor, especially if he continues to complement his outstanding defense with sharpshooting from deep. Harris shot 41.9 3FG% during the Clippers series while taking on Leonard and Paul George on defense.
The Lakers have yet to win a Game 1 in this postseason, but that streak will come to an end this Saturday, as LeBron James and Anthony Davis dominate in the first half before the Lakers’ defense takes over in the second half to beat the Nuggets, 119-109.