Paul Pierce claims the Nuggets will win Game 1 in a blowout: ‘Denver is the Lakers’ daddy’

Jesse Cinquini
4 Min Read
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Former Boston Celtics forward Paul Pierce believes that the Los Angeles Lakers will lose Game 1 of their first-round series against the Denver Nuggets by a significant margin.

“I don’t know what’s up with all this Laker optimism,” Pierce said ahead of Game 1. “I know you have confidence in LeBron [James] and A.D. (Anthony Davis). But what do you guys mean? You don’t see a line like 7.5 for nothing, which is probably the biggest line in the opening game of the playoffs that we’re gonna see this weekend. Nothing’s gonna change. Denver is the Lakers’ daddy. They’ve won eight in a row, and they’re gonna continue to win in Game 1. And I really believe that this seven and a half is too low for Game 1. I truly believe that Denver will come out and make a statement in Game 1 and win by at least 15 points.”

The Nuggets have had the Lakers’ number dating back to the 2023 Western Conference Finals, when Denver swept Los Angeles in four games en route to the 2023 title.

The Lakers had no answers for the Nuggets’ dynamic duo of Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray from a defensive standpoint during the series. The former averaged a triple-double of 27.8 points, 14.5 rebounds and 11.8 assists per game, while the latter averaged 32.5 points per contest on 52.7 percent shooting from the floor and 40.5 percent from 3-point range.

Fast forward to the 2023-24 regular season, and the Lakers lost to the Nuggets in all three matchups between the two teams. To add insult to injury, two of Denver’s three victories over the Lakers came by double digits.

But outside of the fact that Denver has dominated the Lakers in recent years, the Nuggets are the heavy favorites to win the series because they finished the regular season with a vastly superior record. At 57-25, the Nuggets finished tied with the Oklahoma City Thunder for the most regular-season wins of any team in the Western Conference.

The Lakers, on the other hand, won 47 games during the 2023-24 regular season.

Game 1 of the rematch between the two teams who were in last year’s Western Conference Finals will be in Denver on Saturday night. The Lakers will also play Game 2 in Denver on Monday before the series shifts to Los Angeles for Games 3 and 4.

Davis’ recent words ahead of the start of the series suggest that the Lakers are motivated to avenge their loss to the Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals.

“If they beat us, they beat us,” Davis told The Athletic. “We’re not ducking the smoke.”

The big man is only a few days removed from a noteworthy two-way performance in the Lakers’ play-in win over Davis’ former team in the New Orleans Pelicans. Davis totaled 20 points, 15 rebounds, one steal and three blocks for Los Angeles.

The Lakers will likely need Davis to play at the top of his game in order for the team to send the defending NBA champions home in the first round of the playoffs.

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Jesse is a sports journalist with extensive experience covering the NBA. He has worked as a staff writer covering the Lakers’ dreaded rivals, the Boston Celtics, for SB Nation. He has also covered the New York Knicks for The Knicks Wall.