After a thrilling seven games series between the Clippers and Nuggets, the matchup for the Western Conference Finals in the NBA Playoffs has finally been decided! The Los Angeles Lakers will square off against the Denver Nuggets with Game 1 set to take place on Saturday!
As usual, we have a full series preview and betting tips for the full Western Conference Finals series below.
Series Schedule - *if necessary
Game 1 – Saturday Sep 19 (10am AEST)
Game 2 – Monday Sep 21 (9.30am AEST)
Game 3 – Wednesday Sep 23 (11am AEST)
Game 4 – Friday Sep 25 (11am AEST)
Game 5* - Sunday Sep 27 (11am AEST)
Game 6* - Tuesday Sep 29 (10am AEST)
Game 7* - Thursday Oct 1 (10am AEST)
The Lakers have had two pretty comfortably series so far in this playoffs. They took out the first round series against the Blazers in just five games before breezing past the Rockets in another five game series. LeBron James and Anthony Davis have looked superb in both series, and will be an extremely tough cover for Denver starting Saturday.
James is one of the smartest players in the NBA and an absolute technician when it comes to picking apart deficiencies within opponents. While the Nuggets have scraped by in the two series so far, they definitely have some problems on defence still.
One of the major positives for the Lakers is the amount of bodies they have to throw at all-star centre Nikola Jokic. Anthony Davis, Dwight Howard, JaVale McGee and Markieff Morris will all be valuable in defending the in-form big man and should be able to provide five hard fouls on Jokic each.
Denver has done the impossible twice in a row now. First up, they came back from 3-1 down to defeat the Jazz in the first round. Then, unbelievably, they came back from 3-1 down against the star-studded Clippers to advance to the Conference Finals.
It was point guard Jamal Murray who dominated in Round 1 but centre Nikola Jokic was unbelievable in the second round, averaging 24.4 points, 13.4 rebounds and 6.6 assists per game across the seven game series. The Lakers will be more adept at defending Jokic, so the big Serbian will need to take the next step here if he wants to lead the Nuggets to the finals.
One thing the Lakers have lacked throughout the post-season so far is a strong defensive guard. Jamal Murray will be looking to explot that has he did against the Jazz in Round 1.
It’s tough to write off the Nuggets after their amazing performances so far but we just feel like the Lakers are playing too well at the moment on the back of two mega-stars in Anthony Davis and LeBron James at the peak of their powers. The Nuggets should be able to snatch a few games, but ultimately we think the Lakers win this series in six or seven games.
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