It’s LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers’ year
As the Los Angeles Lakers prepare to take on the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals, you can’t help but feel like the stars are beginning to align for Lakers and LeBron James as he sits eight wins away from a fourth NBA title.
Taking nothing away from the talented Nuggets, led by Nikola Jokic and the emerging Jamal Murray, if you had told the Lakers before the season that they would face off against the Nuggets in the conference finals, instead of the LA Clippers, they would’ve taken their chances without asking any questions.
Nevertheless, ahead of Game 1, it’s where they currently sit.
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After a slow start in the NBA’s restart bubble, the Lakers are 8-2 in the playoffs. Ironically enough, they’ve lost both Game 1’s in each of the first two playoff series and then have reeled off four-straight wins on both occasions.
While much has been made about LA’s poor supporting cast beyond LeBron and Anthony Davis, the Lakers have the best net rating in the playoffs, the second-best offense, and third-best defense amongst playoff teams. They’re playing at an extremely high level, but that will certainly be tested at the hands of the Nuggets.
When their backs have been against the wall, that’s when Denver has stepped up the most. They’ve come back from 3-1 series deficits twice in this playoffs and no lead is safe against the Jamal Murray-Nikola Jokic duo.
With that said, the Lakers are heading into Game 1 as a heavy favorite. There’s no one individual defender on the Nuggets that will be able to guard, or even slow down, LeBron. Perhaps the same could be said about Anthony Davis. On the other side of the ball, I’m sure we’ll see some LeBron on Murray and perhaps even on Jokic in certain situations where the Lakers downsize with AD on the bench.
Ultimately, this series will come down to whether the Lakers will be able to overcome in the ways in which the Clippers weren’t able to. If history tells us anything, it’s that LeBron will not lose this series. In fact, you can probably count on one hand the series he’s lost when he’s been considered the favorite – the last one I can remember is the 2010 NBA Finals against the Dallas Mavericks.
It’s a rarety. For the most part, LeBron doesn’t lose the series as a favorite.
If LeBron James and the Lakers could get pass the Nuggets, the Miami Heat or Boston Celtics will be awaiting them in the NBA Finals. The Heat are up 2-0, but the series is far from over. No matter who emerges in the Eastern Conference Finals, LeBron and the Lakers would once again be favorites in the NBA Finals.
In the Eastern Conference, due to their excellent play to begin the playoffs, many are talking about the Miami Heat as a team of destiny. In fact, you could make the same case for LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference.