The 2023 Western Conference Finals between the Lakers and the Nuggets is shaping up to be an epic showdown between two of the best teams in the NBA. While both teams have an array of talented players, the series could ultimately come down to how well Anthony Davis can defend against Nikola Jokic.
Jokic, the reigning MVP, has been on a tear in the playoffs, averaging an impressive 30.7 points, 12.8 rebounds, and 9.7 assists per game in 11 games. His unique blend of size, skill, and vision has made him a nightmare for opposing teams to defend. On the other hand, Davis has been a defensive force for the Lakers, averaging 3.3 blocks per game and anchoring the team’s defense.
In order to win, the Lakers will need Davis to be at his best defensively against Jokic. Davis will need to use his length and athleticism to disrupt Jokic’s game and make it difficult for him to score and create for others. If Davis can neutralize Jokic’s impact on the game, the Lakers will be in a much better position to win.
However, the Lakers’ success will also depend on their ability to get into the paint. The team has relied heavily on their ability to attack the rim and score inside, and they will need to continue to do so against the Nuggets. LeBron James, who has been a dominant force in the playoffs averaging 26.1 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 9.8 assists per game, will be key in driving the Lakers’ offense.
On the other hand, the Nuggets rely heavily on Jokic’s genius play-making ability. Jokic is a master at finding his teammates for open shots and creating scoring opportunities for his team. His ability to read the defense and make the right play at the right time is a big reason why the Nuggets have been so successful in the playoffs.
But the Nuggets have other players who can impact the game as well. Aaron Gordon, acquired mid-season from the Orlando Magic, has been a valuable addition to the team. His athleticism and versatility have made him a strong defender and a capable scorer. Jamal Murray, who has returned from injury, is another player who can make a big impact for the Nuggets.
Ultimately, the series will come down to which team can execute their game plan better. The Lakers will need to continue to attack the rim and rely on Davis to defend against Jokic, while the Nuggets will need to continue to rely on Jokic’s play-making ability and the contributions of their supporting cast. With so much talent on both sides, it is sure to be an exciting and hard-fought series that could go either way.
In addition to the key players on each team, the Lakers and Nuggets will also need contributions from some of their supporting cast in order to win the series. For the Lakers, Austin Reaves and Rui Hachimura will need to be consistent contributors to help boost their chances.
Reaves has been a surprising standout for the Lakers in the playoffs, averaging 15.4 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 4.3 assists per game in 12 games. His ability to score from all over the floor and create for his teammates has made him a valuable asset for the team. However, he will need to continue to be consistent in order to help the Lakers win the series. If Reaves can continue to produce at a high level, he could be a game-changer for the Lakers.
Hachimura, another key role player for the Lakers, has been solid in the playoffs, averaging 11.2 points and 3.6 rebounds per game. While he hasn’t been as dominant as some of the other players on the team, his contributions have been important in helping the Lakers win games. He will need to continue to be a reliable scoring option and a solid defender if the Lakers hope to win the series.
For the Nuggets, Jamal Murray will need to continue to be a force on the court if they hope to win the series. Murray has been dominant in the playoffs, averaging 25.9 points, 6.5 assists, and 5.2 rebounds per game in 11 games. His scoring ability and play-making skills have been a big reason why the Nuggets have been so successful in the playoffs. If he can continue to produce at a high level, he could be the key to the Nuggets’ success.
While both teams have talented players who can make a big impact, the contributions of the supporting cast will also be crucial in determining the outcome of the series. If the Lakers can get consistent production from Reaves and Hachimura, and if the Nuggets can continue to rely on Murray’s scoring and play-making ability, the series is sure to be an intense battle that could go either way.