Lakers vs. Nuggets 2024: NBA Playoff Thrilling Rematch

In the much-anticipated game of Lakers vs. Nuggets, Denver Nuggets defeat Los Angeles Lakers 114-103 in Playoff Opener Led by Nikola Jokic. The Nuggets’ victory over the Lakers in Game 1 of their playoff series showcased some noteworthy aspects worth considering.

Lakers vs. Nuggets

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Lakers vs. Nuggets: Unexpected Twists

When asked Nuggets head coach Mike Malone about the difference this season with the last year’s, he said, “We only played them three times in the regular season and did not really see any difference”.

So, during the game, Lakers introduced several new strategies in Game 1. They altered their substitution pattern and utilized unconventional lineups, catching the Nuggets off guard. Although the Nuggets eventually countered with a strong run, the Lakers’ unexpected tactics proved effective in the first half.

In the opening quarter, the Lakers switched up their usual substitution strategy, giving LeBron and AD extended playing time with 11 minutes each on the court, compared to their usual six and 12 minutes, respectively. Additionally, they executed organized offense for 64% of the quarter, which is significant because the team has a strong record of 19-2 when they prioritize organized plays, hitting this mark more than 55% of the time.

In the second quarter, the Lakers surprised everyone by fielding a lineup that had never played together during the regular season. With D’Lo and Gabe Vincent in the backcourt, Taurean Prince at the three, and Jaxson and AD holding down the paint, the Lakers managed to extend their lead to twelve points midway through the period.

However, Denver’s starters quickly turned the tide with a 14-2 run, erasing the Lakers’ advantage. Despite this setback, the Lakers’ unexpected lineup in the first half proved to be effective, showcasing their versatility and ability to adapt to different situations.

Lakers vs. Nuggets: D’Angelo Russell

Russell struggled to find his rhythm in the playoffs, making costly mistakes that swung the momentum in the Nuggets’ favor. In a span of less than 90 seconds during the second quarter, he turned the ball over in transition and missed an open layup, resulting in a quick score for the Nuggets on the other end. This sequence alone could be seen as a seven-point swing against the Lakers.

Later in the game, Russell attempted a contested 3-pointer early in the shot clock, hoping to draw a foul. However, he missed the shot, and the Nuggets capitalized by scoring on the ensuing possession. These two sequences highlight Russell’s struggles throughout the game.

Despite his assertiveness and taking the most shots for the Lakers, Russell couldn’t find his shooting touch. He finished the game shooting 6-20 from the floor and missed eight of his nine 3-point attempts. Defensively, Russell was slow to close out on opposing players, allowing them to score from distance.

If Russell continues to struggle in the series, it could spell trouble for the Lakers, especially if adjustments are not made by head coach Darvin Ham regarding his playing time.

Lakers vs. Nuggets: Key Areas for Lakers Improvement

Despite the Nuggets’ dominant performance and their nine-game winning streak against the Lakers, the purple and gold face a tough challenge ahead. Losing out on various statistical measures only adds to the difficulty.

The Lakers gave the Nuggets a significant advantage in three-pointers, allowing them to score 21 more points from beyond the arc. Additionally, the Nuggets had 17 more shot attempts, largely due to the Lakers committing eight extra turnovers and grabbing nine fewer offensive rebounds.

While it’s expected that the Lakers will struggle against Nikola Jokic in rebounding, they need to improve their long-range shooting and ball security to compete in the series. However, there is hope, as the Lakers were more accurate in three-point shooting during the regular season, ranking 5th compared to the Nuggets’ 7th. Moreover, their turnover rate was comparable to Denver’s, ranking 16th compared to the Nuggets’ 10th. With adjustments and faith in their abilities, the Lakers can still turn the series around.