The Denver Nuggets will host the Los Angeles Lakers from Ball Arena on Tuesday night in the first game of the Western Conference playoffs.
Latest news on Anthony Davis, LeBron James and Nikola Jokic
The Western Conference finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Denver Nuggets will be dominated by superstars.
LeBron James was named NBA MVP twice in a row (2009-10, 2012-13). Meanwhile, Nikola Jokic did it in 2021-22 and finished second this season.
The Nuggets’ history is not on their side. They have never beaten the Lakers in a postseason series, losing three times in the Western Conference finals in 1985, 2009, and 2020.
The Nuggets have never advanced to the NBA Finals, but they can do it in the next two weeks if they upset LA in the Western Conference finals, which begin tonight in Denver.
The Lakers were the higher seed in the last three conference finals meetings, but they are the underdogs this year.
Los Angeles reorganized its team on the fly, advanced to the playoffs as a seventh seed in a play-in round, and then steamrolled two higher seeds to win the conference championship.
Given that James hasn’t missed a game this playoffs despite the various possible classifications, it’s safe to assume he’ll start Tuesday’s game.
He’s coming off a near triple-double in Game 6’s series-clinching win over the Warriors, with 30 points, nine rebounds, and nine assists, and he’ll want to take that momentum into his second NBA Finals appearance in a Lakers uniform.
The Nuggets have home-court advantage and the No. 1 seed, which they have held for most of the season. Prior to the Lakers game, they were 34-7 at Ball Arena during the regular season and had won all six home playoff games.
They’ll want to use their home court advantage to move to the next round, but it won’t be easy.
The role players will be crucial, but the stars will decide the series, and the Lakers must figure out how to restrict Jokic’s impact.
The two-time MVP has been virtually unbeatable in 11 postseason games, averaging 30.7 points, 12.8 rebounds, and 9.7 assists with five triple-doubles.
Even with Davis paired with Jokic, Denver’s center will require more than Davis to stop.
Davis is expected to play in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals against the Nuggets on Tuesday, despite a right foot stress injury, according to Harrison Faigen of SBNation.com.
Davis has maintained his probable classification throughout the playoffs and has not missed a game, so there is no cause for concern. As he prepares for an All-Star game against Nikola Jokic, expect him to retake his starting spot.
Both sides are dealing with health issues ahead of Game 1. Jamal Murray is listed as questionable with a non-COVID injury, which was also his condition prior to Game 6 in Phoenix on Thursday night. He scored 26 points in 35 minutes in that last game.
Fans of the Nuggets should keep a watch out for updates on Murray’s status following shootaround, but despite the dubious tag suggesting it’s 50/50, it would be unusual if he sat out.
Meanwhile, Mo Bamba returned to Los Angeles on Monday for a follow-up appointment on Tuesday for his left ankle. He’s set to fly to Denver on Tuesday, but his status for Game 1 is doubtful.
- LeBron James (Foot) – Questionable
- Anthony Davis (Foot) – Questionable
- Mo Bamba (Ankle) – Out
- Jamal Murray (Illness) – Questionable
- Collin Gillespie (Lower Leg) – Out for the season