The well-rested LA Lakers are set to take on the red-hot Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals. As Nikola Jokic and the crew try to stop the No. 1 seed in the West, here's a list of key player battles to keep an eye on in the upcoming series.
5 key match-ups in the Denver Nuggets vs LA Lakers Western Conference Finals:
#1. Nikola Jokic (Denver Nuggets) vs Anthony Davis (LA Lakers)
The battle between two of the best bigs in the league might decide the outcome of the series. Nikola Jokic has been absolutely sensational in the 2020 playoffs and has been the backbone of Denver's offense. His scoring and playmaking will be key for the Nuggets' success in the Conference Finals.
Anthony Davis has been the LA Lakers' best two-way player this year. He can protect the rim on one side and make shots on the other. Given his agility and strength, Nikola Jokic will have a hard time guarding 'The Brow' in the paint. The Joker would need Paul Millsap, Jerami Grant, and Mason Plumlee's help at times in order to contain Davis.
#2. Jamal Murray (Denver Nuggets) vs Alex Caruso/Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (LA Lakers)
This is a match-up that undoubtedly favors the Denver Nuggets. Jamal Murray is going through the best patch of his career at the moment and has already had 2 50-point games in the playoffs. He will be Denver's biggest offensive weapon against the Lakers.
While Alex Caruso and KCP are not considered as threats on the offensive end, their defense on Jamal Murray will be crucial for the LA Lakers' success. Caruso came up with a few clutch blocks and steals in the series against the Houston Rockets and will be hoping to continue this good run against the Nuggets.
#3. Jerami Grant/Paul Millsap (Denver Nuggets) vs LeBron James (LA Lakers)
This is one match-up that can tilt the series in favor of the LA Lakers. Figuring out a way to guard LeBron James would be one of the biggest challenges the Denver Nuggets will face. While Jerami Grant and Paul Millsap are good defenders, they simply lack the strength to contain LeBron.
LeBron James has been the team's best player in this year's playoffs. Aged 35, King James is determined to bring the title to Los Angeles this year. He'll be the Pied Piper of the Lakers' offense as he looks to dissect the Denver defense with his exceptional passing abilities.
#4. Michael Porter Jr. (Denver Nuggets) vs Kyle Kuzma (LA Lakers)
The battle between the two 6th men of the teams might be the X-factor that decides the series. Both Michael Porter Jr. and Kyle Kuzma have had some good games but have lacked consistency so far. The Nuggets' 22-year-old has shown his 'clutch gene' by knocking down some big shots in the 4th quarter.
Though Kyle Kuzma's stats have dipped compared to the previous year, the 25-year-old has the confidence to go for his shots and has been key in closing out games for the LA Lakers.
#5. Monte Morris (Denver Nuggets) vs Rajon Rondo (LA Lakers)
The two guards will play a vital role as they run the second units and keep the scoreboard ticking while their star players are on the bench. Rajon Rondo has been the architect of the Lakers' offense in recent games and has helped LeBron James by taking some playmaking responsibilities off his shoulders.
If the superstars play their role and there's not much to split between the teams, the outfit with a better bench might take the series.
Published 17 Sep 2020, 00:15 IST