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Previewing Los Angeles Lakers vs. Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals

The Lakers and Nuggets clash in a rematch of the conference finals in the NBA bubble.

DENVER — The Los Angeles Lakers and Denver Nuggets face off in Game One of the Western Conference Finals on Tuesday night at 8:30 ET in a rematch of the 2020 conference finals series in the NBA’s Orlando Bubble.

In a crossover podcast episode previewing the series, Locked On Lakers hosts Andy and Brian Kamenetzky joined Locked On Nuggets host Adam Mares to break down the series and its key matchups.

Coming out of a wide-open West, this matchup was somewhat unexpected, but also features two of the more dominant and cohesive teams in the conference.

“Denver has been so far and away the best team in the conference this season that people just stop looking at them,” Brian Kamenetzky said.

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From the Nuggets’ standpoint, this is simply a continuation of what began in that 2020 clash. They preserved their energy and stamina to get to this point again.

“The psychology of that team is they have been shorthanded the past two seasons,” Mares said of Denver’s approach to the regular season. “They just said ‘we’re not doing that again, if we have to rest guys for six weeks, we’ll do it.’”

The key face-off will be at the center spot, where bubble hero Anthony Davis matches up against an improved Nikola Jokic, who has won two MVP trophies since these teams last played in the postseason. 

While Davis has an athleticism advantage amid one of his most dominant defensive playoff runs ever, Jokic is bigger and more physical overall.

“Anthony Davis has had the most success on Jokic off-ball, as help-side guy, as a secondary guy,” Mares pointed out. “One on one, Jokic has 30 lbs. on him. That’s a lot of weight. That’s a pretty big size difference.”

While great players like LeBron James and Jamal Murray as well as the coaches’ schemes will play a significant role in how the series plays out, who wins the battle of the big men could decide it. Avoiding foul calls will be of the utmost importance.

“The best way for both of these teams to succeed and maybe win these one-on-ones is to actually force the other one off the court,” Andy Kamenetzky said. “Neither of these teams really play another center. … It will be difficult for either one of these teams if their star gets into foul trouble while the other one stays on the floor.”

The Nuggets are -165 favorites to win the series at the FanDuel Sportsbook.

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