The Lakers and Nuggets played in an instant classic Tuesday night in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals. The Nuggets came out as dominant as you could possibly be, taking a 72-54 lead into halftime. However, the Lakers mounted a wild comeback throughout the 2nd half. They cut the deficit down to as little as 3 points! However, their defense was nonexistent throughout the game, and ultimately fell 132-126. The good news and bad news for the Lakers is that they did a ton of things right in the game. Anthony Davis had arguably his best game of the entire postseason, scoring 40 points on an efficient night of shooting, 10 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 3 steals. He was completely unstoppable. LeBron James fell 1 assist short of a triple-double, scoring 26 points, with 12 rebounds, and 9 assists. Unsung hero Austin Reaves had 23 points, hitting 5 threes. Even Rui Hachimura had an efficient game off the bench, scoring 17 points on 8-11 shooting.
The reason this is bad news for the Lakers is because they had all of this offensive production, and still couldn’t find a way to win the game. Is Daivs going to drop 40 again? Is Reaves going to continue hitting clutch 3s at that pace, especially on the road? And will the Lakers continue to get that kind of production off the bench? Simply put, the Lakers can’t be any worse defensively tonight. Nikola Jokic did whatever he wanted all night, and Jamal Murray had a great game as well, scoring 31 on 12-20 from the floor. However, if Jokic is going to continue dropping 14 assists like he did in Game 1, the Nuggets will continue scoring points in droves. The Lakers may need to have LeBron guard Jokic more to at least make him work harder. It’s safe to say the Lakers have spent the last two days doing little else than trying to figure out how to slow down the 2-time MVP. Jokic will never be shut down in his own building, but if the Lakers can continue to score like they did in Game 1, slowing down Jokic may be enough to steal a game they really need.
Game 2 is going to be good!