For the fourth time in their history, the Nuggets are in the Western Conference Finals. And for the third time, the Lakers are their opponent.
Will this time around be different? Can Denver advance to the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history?
Here’s what The Fan’s hosts think:
Schlereth and Evans
Mike Evans – Nuggets in 7
It would be foolish to pick against this team. They’ve faced every kind of adversity. They still have a giant chip on their shoulder because the national perception is the Clippers choked and there’s supposedly no chance of them beating the mighty Lakers. There’s something magical going on with these Nuggets and it leads to another upset!
Mark Schlereth – Lakers in 4
Hang with me here, Nuggets fans. Every time I pick against the Nuggets, they find a way to overcome double-digit deficits to win, so I’m using the “Transitive property of reversal mechanisms!” You’re welcome.
Orlando and Sandy
Sandy Clough – Lakers in 7
It will be a long-fought series, but at the end the day, the duo of Anthony Davis and LeBron James will be too much for the Nuggets to handle and just a little better than Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray.
Orlando Franklin – Lakers in 5
LeBron and Anthony Davis will be too much for a mentally and physically exhausted Nuggets team after the Lakers have had time to rest.
Stokley and Zach
Zach Bye – Lakers in 6
The Lakers have the biggest roster in the league, which could cause some issues for Denver. On top of that, LeBron is still the best player in the NBA, which will make things difficult.
Brandon Stokley – Lakers in 6
One reason: LeBron James.
Tyler Polumbus – Lakers in 6
The Nuggets absolutely have a chance against the Lakers, but it might take another miracle. Jokic will have to be significantly more impactful than Anthony Davis to make up for LeBron. All in all, the Lakers probably put an end to what has been a magical season for the Nuggets.
DMac – Nuggets in 6
The Nuggets will win in six games no matter what. If they win the first game, they will win the series in five. It comes down to the better team and a lack of fear. LeBron James may be the best player left in the playoffs, but in no way are the Lakers the best team. Similar to the Clippers, they are a collection of talent and as George Karl put out into the universe, team beats talent every time.
Nick and Cecil
Nick Ferguson – Lakers in 5
I’m predicting that the Lakers will advance to the NBA Finals. The combination of LeBron and Anthony Davis will prove to be too much to contend with. While Jokic and Murray have both shown that either player can take over the offensive responsibilities for the Nuggets. The ability to consistently slow down the freight train, that is LeBron James coming down the lane on fast breaks will be a daunting task. The Lakers have a combinational of savvy playoff veterans whose best days might be behind them, but they bring a certain craftiness to game. Anthony Davis and LeBron’s length and ability to guard all four positions could present challenges versus the Nuggets two man pick and roll offense. Like the Clippers, the Lakers roster was hand picked for a championship run. And unlike the Clippers, the Lakers roster features a player that doesn’t have any issues proving that he’s the alpha dog and the emotional leader of the team.
Cecil Lammey – Lakers in 5
This comes down to superstars versus NBA All-Stars, and we’re going to see the difference on the court and in the calls. First, on the court, I do not believe the Nuggets can keep up with the big bodies the Lakers have down low, including superstar Anthony Davis. Add in LeBron James, who can take over in a moment’s notice, and you see how difficult it is for the Nuggets to win more than a game in this series. Simply put, this is a bad matchup for the Nuggets and Nikola Jokic. Second, the officials are going to be on the side of the Lakers. Superstars get calls that All-Stars (like Jokic) do not. Nuggets fans need to brace themselves as the refs are going to give the Lakers calls that they would never give the Nuggets. The NBA doesn’t want a Finals that lacks the Lakers. The refs will make sure the Lakers move on if things get close. The Nuggets have been a great story and have been fun to watch. That fun comes to an end at the hand of the Lakers in this series.
The Fan Late Night
Shawn Drotar – Lakers in 6
After crashing the long-expected “Battle of Los Angeles,” the Nuggets are playing their best basketball of the season, and they have nothing to lose. Nikola Jokić looked like a surgeon against the Clips’ Ivica Zubac, but Anthony Davis won’t make many of the same mistakes. Jokić will have to continue his patient play, and his teammates will need to relentlessly move without the ball to maximize his unique skill set. Jamal Murray finds himself in a better matchup than he had against the Clippers, and if he keeps making shots, he could have a huge series – and Denver needs him to in order to advance. The Nuggets are deeper than the Lakers, and have X-factor performers in Gary Harris, Jerami Grant and Michael Porter, Jr., but the Lakers have LeBron James. There are no defensive matchups for James, one of the half-dozen best players in history and the Nuggets will have to accept that he’ll essentially do whatever he wants on the court. The Nuggets defense needs to limit his teammates’ contributions, instead. If the Nuggets look ready for the moment, and the refs in bubble continue to avoid their unfortunate propensity for “star calls,” the Nuggets have a real chance. But it feels like they’re a bit ahead of schedule, too. Win or lose, Denver’s future looks bright.
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