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Nuggets, Lakers kickoff playoff rematch today on TSN

Denver Nuggets Los Angeles Lakers Michael Porter Jr. LeBron James - The Canadian Press

A year ago when the Los Angeles Lakers faced the Denver Nuggets in the playoffs, they were weary and worn down.

This year, it's different. That's why the Lakers feel like they have a chance — and why the Nuggets expect this to be a challenge.

Watch Game 1 LIVE Saturday night at 8:30 p.m. ET/5:30 p.m. PT on TSN3, TSN4, and the TSN App.

Nikola Jokic and the defending champion Nuggets will face LeBron James and the Lakers in Round 1, a series starting in Denver on Saturday night. Denver swept the Lakers in last season's Western Conference finals, the next-to-last step the Nuggets had to clear before claiming their first NBA title.

“I think we match up with them really good and they match up with us really good, to be honest,” Jokic said. “Just because we won, that doesn't mean this time will be easy. ... I think it's going to be really interesting basketball-wise, tactics-wise.”

The Nuggets have won eight consecutive games over the Lakers, the longest such streak Denver has had in the series history. On one hand, that seems to be a good sign. On the other, Jokic seems to figure the Lakers might be due.

“Can we not mention that anymore?” Jokic said when asked about the streak.

James — the NBA's career leading scorer — makes no secret that he's a Jokic fan.

“He's one of the best players ever to play this game,” James said. “It's that simple. ... He does everything. The most important thing, he changes the way his teammates think about their own play. When you're able to inspire your teammates to play at a level sometimes they don't even feel they can play at, that's the true testament of a great one.”

Denver coach Michael Malone pointed out that last year's sweep is in the past, and not worth thinking about anymore. And he also noted that the Lakers are playing about as well as anyone of late.

“They’re 12-3 in their last 15 games and they’ve had great success with their current lineup, which is the same lineup we saw in the Western Conference finals,” Malone said.


This is James' 17th time going to the playoffs, including his time with Cleveland, Miami and the Lakers. In the 16 previous years, his teams have reached the second round 15 times.

His record in first-round games: 62-17 — 13-3 in Game 1s. James' teams lost series openers in Round 1 in 2018 (Indiana over Cleveland), 2020 (Portland over the Lakers) and 2021 (Phoenix over the Lakers).

Saturday marks the third time he has opened the playoffs on the road — joining 2021 vs. Phoenix and last year vs. Memphis.


Winning last season's title did not make Denver take things lightly this season. Far from it.

The Nuggets won 57 games to tie a franchise record, had 24 road wins (second-most in team history), had 33 home wins (tied for the most in the West) and shot nearly 50% from the field.


Denver is the second favorite to win the NBA title behind only Boston, according to BetMGM. The Nuggets are listed at 3-1, with Boston at about 3-2.

Per BetMGM, the most likely scenario for this series is Denver advancing in five games.


The stats posted by the teams this season are really quite even.

The Lakers averaged 118 points to Denver’s 114.9. The Lakers shot 49.9%, Denver 49.6%. And from 3-point range, it was also close — 37.7% for the Lakers, 37.4% for the Nuggets.

The Nuggets got 44.4 rebounds per game, the Lakers 43.1. Denver had 29.5 assists per game, the Lakers 28.5. Blocks per game (Denver 5.6, Lakers 5.5) and steals per game (Lakers 7.4, Nuggets 7.1) were also basically a wash.

Denver has one big edge in defense: The Nuggets gave up 109.6 points per game, compared to the Lakers' 117.4.


Denver coach Michael Malone: “What you always fight is human nature. You win a championship and you waited so long and worked so hard to get there. Now how do you come back and not relax and not say ‘Well, we did that.’ And to our credit, the proof for me is in the 57 wins.”