The LA Lakers have made the playoffs look like a walk in the park so far. On their run to the conference finals, they beat the Portland Trail Blazers and the Houston Rockets, winning both series in just five games.
On the other hand, the road to the conference finals has been anything but easy for the Denver Nuggets. Seven games against two tough teams in the form of the Utah Jazz and the LA Clippers are what it took for them to get to the finals.
Both teams have seen their star duos shine in the bubble. The prospect of watching the exciting cores of the LA Lakers and Denver Nuggets go head to head in a playoff series is a mouth-watering one.
With all this being said, though, let's analyze the series from both sides' perspectives.
The LA Lakers will be the favorites to win this series
The LA Lakers are the favorites to win it all this season. LeBron James has been in sizzling form and is a triple-double threat on any given night. He has been vocal, rallying his team in challenging moments and leading them to victory almost every time.
The LA Lakers' other star, Anthony Davis, has also been impressive. His defense has been elite, while his offense has been pretty good too.
However, given the ability he possesses, many fans had hoped for Davis to be operating at a relatively higher level. However, we believe it's just a case of there not being any pressure on him to produce something extraordinary to drag his team over the line.
But there are a few worrying signs for the LA Lakers. The team's outside defense is known for failing in the most important of moments. While the Houston Rockets were gone in five, the game they did win was where multiple players apart from James Harden were efficient from deep.
When up against a team with many elite shooters, this flaw will most definitely be a problem for the LA Lakers.
Another worry is the form of some of their role players. While Rajan Rondo has been doing well, players like Danny Green and J.R. Smith have yet to produce consistently. If these players fail to perform, the LA Lakers' outside shooting will suffer massively and may even cause the team's offense to stagnate at critical moments.
The LA Lakers may be favorites, but this series will be far from easy for the team.
The Denver Nuggets' role players will need to be at their best
There will be games where the Denver Nuggets' stars are shut down and will need to rely on their supporting cast. And if the Denver Nuggets wish to go through to the NBA Finals, they need them to perform.
The fact that Michael Porter Jr. is increasingly looking like a star in the making is another positive too. The 22-year-old contributed massively to the Denver Nuggets' comeback in games five and six against the LA Clippers, and fans will expect more of the same from him.
It's not all rosy, though. The team's defense has often come under intense scrutiny, and justifiably so. On too many occasions, the Denver Nuggets' defense has been unreliable, giving other teams a chance to run away with the game.
While they did eventually adapt to both the Utah Jazz and the LA Clippers, the team can't afford to go down in this series. Any slip-up and the Denver Nuggets will be eaten alive by their opposition.
The role players and defense will make or break this series for the Denver Nuggets.
So what does the future hold for this series?
The series between the LA Lakers and Denver Nuggets will be a close one. Both teams have star duos that have proven they can perform in the most challenging moments. And we suspect this matchup could go to Game 6 or even Game 7.
Ultimately though, we can't see the Denver Nuggets beating their opposition this time around.
We predict the LA Lakers to take this series in six games.
Published 16 Sep 2020, 18:36 IST