Michael Porter Jr. not taking Lakers lightly as he looks ahead to Round 1

Peter Dewey
3 Min Read
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Denver Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. shared his thoughts on the upcoming playoff matchup with the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round.

“The Lakers are a very good team as well,” Porter Jr. said. “We may have swept them last year, but it was a battle every game. They were in the game – I think they were in every game and then it came down to the last two or three minutes where we kind of pull away. So, it may have looked like we dominated, but that was a very good matchup last year. So, we’re taking everyone serious.”

Denver swept the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals last season, but like Porter Jr. mentioned, Los Angeles was in every game, losing by six, five, 11 and two points.

The Nuggets appear to be ready for a battle with Los Angeles, but they have gotten the best of LeBron James, Anthony Davis and company as of late. During the 2023-24 regular season, the Nuggets went 3-0 in their meetings with the Lakers.

Still, Davis recently said that his team isn’t “ducking the smoke” when it comes to playing Denver.

Los Angeles proved that in the play-in tournament on Tuesday night, defeating the New Orleans Pelicans to earn the No. 7 seed in the West – setting up the matchup with Denver. Had the Lakers lost, they would still have had a chance to make the postseason by playing for the No. 8 seed on Friday.

The team didn’t take any chances, but it now will have to take down the defending champs to continue on in the postseason.

Porter Jr. will be a key player in the Lakers-Nuggets series, as he’s been a key scorer for Denver the past few seasons. During the 2023-24 season, the former first-round pick averaged 16.7 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game while shooting 48.4 percent from the field and 39.7 percent from beyond the arc.

During his three matchups against the Lakers this season, Porter Jr. scored 12, 27 and 25 points. He likely will be a player the Lakers key in on in their defensive strategy.

The Lakers-Nuggets series will get underway on Saturday, April 20 with Game 1 in Denver at Ball Arena. That matchup is scheduled to tip off at 5:30 p.m. PST.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.