The Los Angeles Lakers claimed a spot in the Western Conference Finals on Friday night by dispatching the Golden State Warriors 122-101 in Game 6 of the second round. It was something that seemed extremely unlikely as recently as two months ago.
They will now face the Denver Nuggets in the next round, and LeBron James sounds like he’s looking forward to the matchup.
LeBron on Denver: "It's gonna be a great series. You got two well coached teams. They been the No. 1 seed in the West all year long. We give them a lot of respect."
— Lakers Daily (@LakersDailyCom) May 13, 2023
Game 6 was a blowout for most of the evening. The Lakers led by 17 early, and after Golden State made a run in the second quarter to trim their lead to four, they reasserted themselves and sent Stephen Curry’s gang home for a long and painful offseason.
James led the way with 30 points on hot shooting plus nine rebounds and nine assists, while Anthony Davis pulled down 20 rebounds and Austin Reaves added 23 points.
But the most impressive aspect of L.A.’s performance was its defense. It held Klay Thompson, who has historically come out hot in Game 6s, to 3-of-19 from the field and 2-of-12 from downtown, making it one of the worst games of his career. Overall, Golden State made just 37.9 percent of its shots.
All season long, the defending NBA champs had trouble winning on the road, and in the end, that deficiency led to their demise.
The Lakers will start their series against the Nuggets on Tuesday, giving them some much-deserved and beneficial rest. Denver features a potent and well-balanced team that features two-time league MVP Nikola Jokic, explosive guard Jamal Murray and former Laker Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, a member of the Lakers’ 2020 championship team.
The matchup between Jokic and Davis should be riveting and possibly a throwback to the NBA of decades ago when good and great centers were the norm and not a novelty, as people consider them to be today.