May 28, 2023
Lakers vs. Nuggets

Following the Lakers’ narrow 132-126 loss to the Denver Nuggets in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, the Lakers’ star player LeBron James expressed his disbelief at the missed opportunity to win.

Despite trailing by 21 points and being out rebounded by 17, the Lakers had a chance to tie the game in the final seconds. However, a missed three-pointer by James kept them from completing the comeback.

The Nuggets showcased their strength, led by two-time MVP Nikola Jokic with an impressive performance of 34 points, 21 rebounds, 14 assists, and two blocks.

Jamal Murray also contributed with 31 points, displaying their prowess as the No. 1 seed in the West.

Although the Lakers demonstrated their ability to make strategic adjustments in previous playoff series against the Golden State Warriors and Memphis Grizzlies, they faced a tough challenge against the Nuggets.

Coach Darvin Ham’s adjustments in the second half, along with Anthony Davis’ outstanding performance of 40 points, provided the Lakers with a real chance to win.

One notable adjustment was Rui Hachimura guarding Jokic, allowing Davis to provide secondary defense. This change in defensive matchups affected the Nuggets’ offensive efficiency significantly.

When Davis defended Jokic, the Nuggets averaged 1.45 points per play, while with Hachimura guarding Jokic, the average dropped to 0.67 points per play.

Hachimura, despite being smaller in size compared to Jokic, played a crucial defensive role and contributed 17 points on offense. He highlighted the importance of his defensive assignment and looked forward to the rest of the series.

In the second half, the Lakers focused on limiting Jamal Murray’s impact by putting defensive pressure on him during pick-and-roll situations. This tactic proved effective as Murray’s production decreased after halftime.

Despite trailing in the series for the first time in the playoffs, the Lakers’ leaders expressed confidence in their team’s abilities and remained optimistic. They acknowledged the need for improvement and vowed to come back stronger in Game 2.

Looking ahead to Game 2, coach Ham might consider starting Hachimura due to his defensive contributions against Jokic.

The Lakers may also evaluate their starting back court, deciding between Dennis Schroder and D’Angelo Russell. Russell’s limited impact in Game 1 and his shooting struggles make him a potential candidate for a lineup change.

However, there are concerns about how Russell might respond to a shift to the bench, as he has started in every other game this postseason.

As the underdogs in the series, the Lakers understand the importance of Game 2 and the need to make improvements in various aspects of their game. They are determined to bounce back and level the series against the formidable Denver Nuggets.

Check out NBA playoffs 2023: Schedule, how to watch, scores and more.

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