3 Reasons why Denver Nuggets ended Los Angeles Lakers’ cinderella run

Denver Nuggets Nikola Jokic (Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports)
Denver Nuggets Nikola Jokic (Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports) /
1 of 3

Looking back at three reasons why the Denver Nuggets ended the Los Angeles Lakers’ Cinderella run. 

The Denver Nuggets made history on Monday, May 22, defeating the Los Angeles Lakers in just four games in the Western Conference Finals to reach their first NBA Finals in franchise history.

Although the Nuggets won the series in swift fashion, it was actually quite competitive, and the Lakers put up a good fight. Still, the Nuggets looked incredible, and there are a few reasons why they performed so well. Let’s dive in and see how the Denver Nuggets swept the star-studded Lakers.

The dynamic duo of Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray

The biggest reason the Denver Nuggets controlled this series is that their two stars, Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray, played out of their minds.

Jokic, who nearly won his third consecutive MVP award this season, was unbelievable, averaging roughly 28 points, 15 rebounds, and 12 assists per game on 59.8% true shooting. He plays the game like a robot that was built to play basketball, generating unreal production without breaking a sweat, and that was no different in this series as he recorded a triple-double in three of the four contests.

He was unbelievable as a passer, sporting an assist rate of 42.6%, meaning he recorded an assist on 42.6% of his possessions, which is an incredible mark, especially for a big man. To make this even more impressive, he was able to be a hyper-productive passer without turning the ball over often, sporting a turnover rate of just 13.9%. It’s really difficult for high-volume passers to limit their turnovers, but Jokic was able to do that in this series.

He also shot the ball extremely well at the rim and from three-point range. Jokic was unstoppable as a scorer around the basket, hitting 81% of his shots in the restricted area. This is remarkable, considering he was being guarded by Anthony Davis a lot.

His three-point shooting was fantastic as well, as he hit 47.1% of his 17 three-point attempts. Of course, this is a small sample size of shot attempts, so his shooting percentage isn’t that impressive. However, you have to give him credit for being so consistent as a shooter from behind the arc and waiting for the perfect opportunity to take shots he knows he can make at a high rate.

While Nikola Jokic was the star of the show, Jamal Murray was awesome as well, and he played a huge part in the Nuggets’ dismantling of the Lakers’ defense.

For the series, Murray averaged roughly 33 points, six rebounds, five assists, and three steals per game on 65.1% true shooting. He has made a habit of improving his scoring output in the playoffs throughout his career. This series was no different, as his regular season scoring average of 20 points rose by 13 points. This is just one series, of course, but he is still averaging around 28 points per game this postseason, which is eight more than he did in the regular season.

His shot creation and long-distance shooting were off the charts in this series, and the Lakers struggled to stop it. He averaged around nine three-point attempts per game this series, making 40.5% of them. That is some red-hot three-point shooting.

Murray was on fire from behind the arc, but he was even better shooting off the dribble from mid-range. In these four games, he averaged around eight off-the-dribble two-point attempts per game, making an incredible 71% of them. The fact that he was so effective shooting from the perimeter made him impossible to guard in pick and rolls, as no matter what kind of defensive coverage the Lakers threw at the Nuggets, Murray found a way to make them pay.