The Denver Nuggets defeated the Lakers to confirm their status as the best in the NBA
If you had asked most people before this series who would make it to the NBA Finals between the Lakers and their no-name opponents, they would have responded with a poetic question. “Do you know who they’re playing?” Not literally. The Denver Nuggets are not playingitness pbut only a few days ago the hubris Instead of LeBron and Anthony Davis in the conference finals volt astonishing. It’s never wise to doubt LeBron James, especially when his opponents are lambs for the slaughter.
Rob Riggle, Amin Joseph, Joshua Malina and more share NBA Finals predictions
To the outside world, the Denver Nuggets are the same team as The Bubble in Los Angeles. Since then, they have been swept by Phoenix in the postseason and handled by the Warriors with six men. However, the Lakers were the apple of everyone’s eyes in the playoffs. Davis’ respectable performance saw the defending champion just eliminated in six games.
The finals between the Celtics and the Lakers were written in the stars. LeBron James has been tormented for 15 years and is the tormentor of the Celtics. Boston ended its first reign in Cleveland. LeBron James ended the Celtics’ run in a 2012 streak so deep it spawned LeBron’s death stare. A week later, the story is still about LeBron’s son of disbelief in Denver, and Company is like 2007 all over again. One moment, LA was the hottest story in the West, AD condemned the Warriors for six games in Alcatraz, and the Nuggets felt like shrinking violets. A week later, Denver buries the Lakers in an 0-3 hole. Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around every once in a while, you can miss it. From Ferris Bueller’s lips to God’s ears.
The Nuggets are the extinction-level event no one saw coming — at least before the season. Despite losing one of the league’s best talent evaluators to Minnesota, the Nuggets’ lineup has seen a few changes. and the return of Michael Porter Jr., Jamal Murray and a handful of role players, giving Jokic a chance to decide which version best fits what the Nuggets need on a nightly basis. If you still doubted them after they tore the Phoenix Suns apart, that’s on you. No one has been a more invisible force in the NBA’s attention economy than Denver and Murray as the striking hand helps Jokic unlock their transcendent offense. Murray is a fireball when he gets going, but the jury was still out on whether the fringe All-Star would dramatically turn the odds for Denver.
Small market, big team
In Game 3, Murray might as well have been invisible as he exploded for 30 at halftime before anyone noticed the pyromania lighting up the Crypto Arena scoreboard. How did the NBA’s No. 1 defense allow the Nuggets to beat them? Sacramento was the best offensive rating in the history of the league and all the focus was on Denver for the MVP race and which he was wearing boxers on a nightly basis. But the Nuggets a misdemeanor he was the NBA’s best in the postseason by a significant margin.
It’s easy to overlook the Nuggets. Being ignored by the media is the primary personality trait of No. 1 seeds in the Western Conference. The only glimpse of Jokic from a basketball court we ever saw was the horse stable he was in when he was presented with his second MVP. He rarely gets emotional in front of the media, and his visibility in terms of shoe deals and endorsements is virtually nil.
Being ignored is so ingrained in Nuggets culture, it spreads through osmosis and I’ve been distracted by a more compelling argument about the Lakers’ shortcomings. The main storylines in this series were LeBron letting himself off the hook often enough that the Lakers should consider giving him a LifeAlert sponsorship just in case. Austin Reaves Court Cobain swag, or Rui Hachimura switched to Jokic to decide the series in Los Angeles – after they lost Game 1.
The Nuggets could have been a game-changing crew. Porter’s low assist percentage has always been a concern, but he set a new career high in assists in Game 3. As a result of the media blackout surrounding Denver, the NBA is only now discovering the Swiss Army Knife Br.uce Brown. The 6-4 Brown roamed between point guard and power forward at times. He’s the inverse of Denver’s point guard in the body of an amorphous center. Brown is a pure point guard with the tenacity of a 90s power forward. He is just as likely to be the roller in the pick and roll as the ball handler. Last season in Brooklyn, Brown shot 68 percent in the paint and 15 percent from beyond the arc.
In Denver, Brown saw an uptick in rim usage, shooting 22 percent from behind the arc and 58 percent in the paint. In Game 3, it became him the first bench player Andre Iguodala has come off the bench with 15/5/5 points, rebounds and assists since his 2015 Finals appearance. Originally envisioned as a 3-D wing, Brown was left behind by diminutive Monte Morris for most of the minutes and developed his defensive rotation scheme.
We probably should have seen this coming. It doesn’t take a deep dive to notice that the Lakers were a dynamic playoff team, while the Nuggets won 53 games. That would be good enough for only fourth in the East, but the Nuggets have few mistakes. Their defense has been below league standard for most of the season
In the first 27 games of the season they were the third worst 100 in authorized points per possession. Through the last two thirds of the season they were in sixth place, but never shook the perception that they were a scrappy defensive team. Armed with potent offensive artillery and a dethroned MVP, the Nuggets are on the verge of finally taking hold of the narrative.
Follow DJ Dunson on Twitter: @brain sportex