“Internally, the Lakers are confident that their offseason tune-up will help them better match up with Denver if the two meet again in a playoff series,” Jovan Buha wrote. “That includes [Anthony] Davis returning to his 2019-20 shooting ways, with the preseason indicating he’s on the right track. (After all, the biggest shot of his career was a game-winning 3-pointer against the Nuggets in the 2020 playoffs.)”
The storied Lakers franchise signed guard Gabe Vincent, big man Christian Wood, big man Jaxson Hayes and wing Cam Reddish during the offseason. Vincent and Wood, in particular, project to play important roles for the team this season.
The Lakers and Nuggets faced off against each other in the 2023 Western Conference Finals. The former beat the Memphis Grizzlies and Golden State Warriors in the first two rounds of the playoffs, while the latter eliminated the Minnesota Timberwolves and Phoenix Suns.
Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets ended up sweeping LeBron James’ Lakers in four games, but the series was closer than the 4-0 tally indicates. Three of Denver’s four wins against the Lakers came by six points or less, and the Nuggets won the series-clinching Game 4 by just two points.
After taking care of the Lakers, the Nuggets eliminated Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and the Miami Heat in five games to win the title. The series was tied 1-1 at one point, but Denver rattled off three consecutive wins after losing Game 2 of the championship series.
2023 wasn’t the only time this decade that Jokic’s Nuggets played James’ Lakers in a playoff series. The two teams battled each other in the 2020 Western Conference Finals.
It was James, Davis and the Lakers who prevailed in that series, seeing as how they sent the Nuggets home in five games. Davis averaged 31.2 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game against Denver, and James averaged 27.0 points, 10.4 rebounds and 9.0 assists per game.
Only time will tell if the Lakers’ offseason tune-up will help them against the Nuggets in a future playoff series. The Lakers will play the Nuggets for the first time since the 2023 Western Conference Finals on Tuesday night.