Date & Time: Friday, September 18th, 9 PM ET (Saturday, 6:30 AM IST)
Venue: AdventHealth Arena, Orlando, FL
Two teams with contrasting storylines in the postseason so far will be meeting in the Western Conference Finals this time around. While the LA Lakers have blitzed through their competition, the Denver Nuggets have had to claw back from consecutive 1-3 deficits to set up this date.
Denver Nuggets Preview
The Denver Nuggets have shown in the last few days how a team with efficient role players and a couple of stars can play brilliant team basketball. Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray have been elite but the supporting crew has come up with big plays, especially Michael Porter Jr., who has established himself as the third guy on the team.
The biggest positive for coach Mike Malone is that his side has been able to put the clamps on late in games when it matters the most. That will definitely come in handy against the LA Lakers who exhibit a similar trait themselves.
Key Player - Nikola Jokic
At this moment, Nikola Jokic is the heart and soul of this Denver Nuggets team. Jamal Murray can go off for 50 points but without Jokic's rebounding and passing game, the offense just doesn't flow as well. More importantly, the Joker will also be up against the LA Lakers' talismanic duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
Denver Nuggets Predicted Lineup
Gary Harris, Jamal Murray, Jerami Grant, Paul Millsap, Nikola Jokic
LA Lakers Preview
The LA Lakers have reached the Western Conference Finals for the first time since 2010 and their run in the postseason so far suggests that they're ready to go all the way. Fueled by Playoff LeBron, the Purple and Gold are peaking on both ends of the floor at the right time.
Although the frontcourt battle is likely to decide this series, the LA Lakers' backcourt will add an extra layer to the match-ups. Rajon Rondo's taken things up a notch after returning from injury. Alex Caruso is making huge plays every other day and his perimeter defense will come in handy against Denver Nuggets' Jamal Murray.
Key Player - LeBron James
LeBron James is once again averaging a near triple-double in the playoffs. He turns into a different beast altogether in the postseason and it's been no different this year. Most importantly though, LeBron makes his teammates better. His role on the LA Lakers is exactly the same as that of Jokic on the Denver Nuggets, he keeps the team chemistry in check.
LA Lakers Predicted Lineup
LeBron James, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Danny Green, Anthony Davis, JaVale McGee
Nuggets vs Lakers Prediction
Looking back at how the postseason has been for the LA Lakers, they prefer to feel out the opposition in Game 1. This doesn't imply that the Purple and Gold will be holding back, but their gameplan isn't generally that robust in series openers.
For the Denver Nuggets though, the converse would be true. Mike Malone would want to make good use of his team's momentum and ask his players to go all out. Expect this to be a close game nonetheless, with Denver picking up the win.
Where to watch Nuggets vs Lakers?
National coverage of the game will be available on TNT. Fans in India can tune in to Sony Six. For live streaming the game, NBA League Pass is your go-to option.