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Lakers vs. Nuggets: Why Denver Game Is the Most Important for LeBron James, LA Right Now

Denver Nuggets v Los Angeles Lakers - Game Four

(Photo : Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images) LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MAY 22: Nikola Jokic #15 of the Denver Nuggets is called for an offensive foul against LeBron James #6 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the second half in game four of the Western Conference Finals at Arena on May 22, 2023 in Los Angeles, California.

It’s just another regular-season game. Well, at least for the Denver Nuggets.

For the Los Angeles Lakers, it is so much more.

It will be the Western Conference Finals rematch on Saturday as Lebron James and the rest of the Lakers host the defending NBA champions.

There was back and forth between the two teams after their playoff encounter and the Nuggets won their first NBA title.

The word war was more intense than what happened on the court. The Lakers were swept by Nikola Jokic and company.

Nuggets coach Mike Malone and other players kept on talking about the Lakers even after they already lifted the NBA title to the point that James had to react.

“In Europe for the last past few weeks minding my business and I hear I’m on your mind that much huh???”” James wrote. “I mean I guess I see why. … Enjoy your light but just know I’m the SUN.”

It is time for the Lakers to prove that they are the SUN.

Read more: Khris Middleton Return Update – Bucks on a Roll, but Kash Money Can Make Them More Dangerous

The two teams have met twice already this season with both won by the Nuggets.

The rivalry head back to Arena and the Lakers need to play with more sense of urgency as this game will define what they are really capable of.

Why does this game matter more for the Lakers?

In October last year, several Purple and Gold stars spoke about how the Nuggets are not their rivals. They are their barometer.

So far, they are coming up short. In both losses, the team played at full strength and still lost.

Austin Reaves put it best as to why the Nuggets succeeded over them. He said the opponents are more well-structured and have been together longer compared to his own squad.

Denver is the betting favorite to win the Western Conference according to Draft Kings at 38 percent while the Lakers are in the sixth spot with five percent.

There’s a staggering difference between them. The Lakers, currently ninth in the standings, should not be counted out.

Lebron is leveling it up since the All-Star break.

His team won three of their last five since returning from Indiana festivities. One is against state rivals and hot team LA Clippers and the other two were against bottom teams Washington Wizards and San Antonio Spurs.

The Wizards game to be decided after the OT period.

The Nuggets, on the other hand, seems indestructible right now. They are yet lose a game since the All-Star break and Jokic puts up usual numbers and does it with ease.

Their last three wins were against above .500 teams Golden State Warriors, Sacramento Kings, and Miami Heat.

Anybody in the West who wants to win the title will have to go through the Nuggets.

The Lakers should use the Saturday game to test their ability to contend.

It should serve as a dress rehearsal to see if they belong to the top tier. No other team can bring out the very best of a team that claims to have a shot at the title than the Nuggets.

Jokic is unstoppable right now and he has a very good side cast that complements his title well.

The Nuggets have the ninth-best defense in the NBA right now while the Lakers’ offensive rating is 18th in the league.

Lakers’ March schedule is the third most difficult among all teams. A win, or at least an inspiring outing, can set the tone for the rest of their campaign.

After the Nuggets, they will face OKC, the Kings (twice), Milwaukee Bucks, Minnesota Timberwolves, and then the Golden State Warriors in two weeks.

A win at home against the Nuggets should revolutionize the team’s mentality heading into the playoffs. It will make them think they can beat anybody.

Related article: LeBron James’ 21-Point Comeback, 19-Point 4th Quarter vs. Clippers His Greatest Game Ever?

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