The Lakers defeated the Rockets 119-96 in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals and advanced to the conference finals for the first time since 2010, it was also the last time the franchise won a championship.
The road to the championship in Orlando would make perfect geographical sense if it passes through Los Angeles, but no!
That’s not good news for L.A. And even beyond area code 213. A basketball universe and TV audience was craving for a Lakers vs Clippers series. But the Nuggets had their thing to say, coming back from a 3-1 deficit for the second time in these 2020 Playoffs.
The Lakers have their superstars in Lebron James and Anthony Davis, the real dynamic duo of the NBA while the Nuggets counter with youth in All-Star center Nikola Jokic and now superstar guard Jamal Murray. Lebron has been on fire in the playoffs, ranking third in the NBA in assists (8.8 per game), ninth in scoring (26.6) and 11th in rebounding (10.3), and his defense has been outstanding. Davis has been inconsistent scoring-wise, but he’s still ranked seventh in the playoffs in points (27.6) and eighth in rebounds (10.9). Nikola Jokic has been nearly impossible to contain, knocking down three-pointers, posting up, passing, all leading to him averaging 26.1 points per game, 9.9 rebounds and 5.5 assists. Murray is tied for 10th in the playoffs in scoring (26.1), and he’s averaging 6.5 assists per game and shooting 49.5% from three-point range.
Why the Lakers will win this series? Los Angeles have been playing some of the best defense in recent years in the playoffs and their offense has been on point behind the direction of James and since the return of Rajon Rondo. The Lakers are third in scoring in the playoffs, first in shooting, second in rebounding, first in assists , third in steals and first in blocks. The Lake show are tied for third in the playoffs for the least amount of points allowed, giving up 105.2 points per game.
The last time the Lakers and Nuggets played in the Western Conference Finals was in 2009. The Lakers won that series in six games behind a dominant stretch of games from the late great Kobe Bryant, who averaged 34 points per game.
The only other time the Lakers and Nuggets have faced off in the Western Conference Finals was in 1985. The Lakers won that series in five games.
The Lakers will hope for a similar result this season, but the Nuggets didn’t clinch their spot in the Western Conference Finals on accident. On Tuesday, the Nuggets became the first to come back from a 3-1 deficit twice in the postseason. They’re a scrappy young team with a lot of talent and those types of teams can create all sorts of problems for a veteran team like the Lakers.