The Denver Nuggets will host the Los Angeles Lakers for the Conference Finals opener on Tuesday. After a defining series versus the Suns, the Nuggets will appear in the third round yet again after three years. The Lakers on the other hand managed to defeat the defending champs, the Golden State Warriors in round 2. The upcoming series versus the Nuggets will be a rematch of the 2020 Western Conference Finals.
Both the teams have been pretty solid so far in the postseason. The Lakers have established themselves as title contenders, coming through the Play-In tournament, whereas the Nuggets just got past the team with three elite-level scorers. Though this series would only be more on the level when all the stars are healthy.
Nikola Jokic looks healthy for Game 1 of Denver Nuggets vs Los Angeles Lakers
The real MVP of the 2023 postseason, Nikola Jokic is healthy and set to play Game 1 of the Conference Finals. Jokic has been averaging a triple-double for most of the season, putting up 30 points, 12 rebounds, and 9 assists so far in the playoffs. He has led the Nuggets past the Wolves as well as the Suns. With Jokic and company not suffering from injuries, the team has shown its full potential in the postseason.
Though the Nuggets’ fans might be disappointed to know that Jamal Murray is held as questionable for Game 1. Murray who has been an absolute force on the offense alongside Jokic, is suffering from an illness ahead of the start of the third round. While he is not going through any sort of serious pain, he will most likely suit up for this home game.
Both teams will be battling it out, playing in the final round of the conference. Though it is crucial to look at the final injury reports and expected roster before diving into the prediction.
Denver Nuggets injury report
- Jamal Murray (questionable)
- Collin Gillespie (out)
Denver Nuggets expected roster
- Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
- Nikola Jokic
- Aaron Gordon
- Michael Porter Jr.
- Jamal Murray
Los Angeles Lakers injury report
- LeBron James (probable)
- Anthony Davis (probable)
- Mo Bamba (out)
Los Angeles Lakers expected roster
- Dennis Schroder
- Austin Reeves
- D’Angelo Russell
- LeBron James
- Anthony Davis
The Nuggets will take their time in revealing Murray’s final status before Game 1. Whereas the Lakers’ roster shall remain the same, as LeBron James and AD seem probable to suit up for this road game. With the rosters and players in check, it is now time for expert predictions.
The Denver Nuggets seem to be the favorites in this series
The new-look Lakers have the fans in awe ever since their outburst in this year’s postseason. Compared to the Nuggets, they do force more turnovers, but on the other hand, Denver has a better overall shooting percentage than the Lakers. Austin Reaves, the youngster has also stepped up, putting up great numbers and being a reliable scorer for his team. Whereas Aaron Gordon and Michael Porter Jr. have turned out to be great defensively.
The Lakers play an overall collective game, which is no different than the Nuggets’ offense. Jokic and Murray are the biggest scoring threat, as the Lakers will have a tough task defending the open floor. While taking on the Suns, the Nuggets did have a problem going against Devin Booker’s scoring surge, as well as Kevin Durant. After the series was tied at 2-2, the Nuggets found their switch and went on to win the next two games to take the series.
The Lakers on the other hand seemed to rely quite a lot on Davis’ dominance in the paint, which did reward them in the end, though this time, AD will have to deal with the Joker himself. During the regular season, both teams played quite a few close games, having tied their matchups at 2-2 this season. Playoff basketball on the other hand is the complete opposite of the regular season’s intensity. The Lakers had later made a few changes, whereas the Nuggets had simply played their championship-level game to top the Western Conference.
Denver’s offense is well-spread with Jokic being the facilitator on the floor, providing space for knockdown shooters. Having their offense the same as they had versus the Suns, the Nuggets will surely take Game 1 at home. It will be interesting to see how LeBron James‘ Lakers will hold off the Nuggets, as they play Game 1 in Denver on Tuesday.