Cinderella Nuggets Look to Keep Disney Magic Alive


What a beautiful and insane amount of basketball we have been able to witness these past few months. As fans, we are truly spoiled by the sheer emotion that has resulted from this Orlando bubble. Triumph, defeat, nail-biting endings, overtime thrillers, and not to mention one of the best moments ever recorded in NBA Twitter lore.


It’s strange, a Western Conference Finals scenario that did not feature the Lakers and the Clippers seemed unfathomable for most of the year. People’s anticipation for that matchup might distract them from the fact that this Denver Nuggets team is making unprecedented history.

It is unfortunate that the magnitude of a team’s failure is overshadowing one of the best underdog stories we have seen in sports history. This might lead people to write off the Nuggets going into this series against LeBron and company.

Demver’s chances

The Nuggets will have as good as a chance as ever as long as Jamal Murray continues to perform at the rate that he is. We are watching Murray develop into a star for this Nuggets team, providing bucket after bucket in the clutch and being the go-to option this team has struggled to find for the last few years. Jokic gets a lot of the credit for this team’s success, and deservedly so, but Orlando bubble Jamal Murray is an absolute wrecking ball right now.

The problem for Denver is simple, but glaring. Anthony Davis needs to be contained. (Disclaimer: I do not say that to downplay the impact that LeBron James has on the basketball court. I think of it in this regard: the Nuggets do not really have anybody that can shut him down).

The Lakers’ advantage

So where does that leave us? With the next two best players on the floor who happen to be big men. The two have never met in the playoffs, but Jokic has won the regular season matchups 7-6. In these 13 games, Anthony Davis has averaged a startling 28.9 points, 8.4 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game. AD has absolutely menaced the Joker when he plays a majority of his minutes at the five.

You figure that Frank Vogel understands this, so expect Anthony Davis to play a lot more center during this series, meaning we will see less of an impact from Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee. Jokic is a hawk with the ball, and knows how to weave through defenses at his own pace. This is a Shaq vs. Hakeem matchup-esque matchup in the making and the winner will show us who truly deserved that first team All-NBA nod.

The Lakers have the athleticism, height and experience to give the Nuggets fits in this series. Nonetheless, you cannot roll over the fact that the Nuggets just persevered against supposedly one of the best teams to ever be assembled in recent memory. The Clippers were supposed to be built for any team because they had three-point shooting, lockdown wing defenders, athletic big men, and never-ending depth off the bench.

Key Role Players

It is all a matter of who is going to step up when and how for each of these teams. What are Danny Green, Kyle Kuzma and Rajon Rondo going to do for the Lakers? What are Gary Harris, Paul Millsap and Jerami Grant going to do for the Nuggets? Does Will Barton come back and if he does, do you risk playing him and throwing off momentum? The Lakers won the regular-season series 3-1, with two games decided by a margin of victory of four points or less. It would be naive to give the Nuggets the treatment they were getting before the Clippers series.

On the other hand, the Lakers are not the Clippers and everyone should be prepared to watch LeBron James play the hardest brand of basketball they can for 48 minutes on Friday night. But nothing is guaranteed except that it is going to be a historic series.

About Jack Minello

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