I actually think that Denver is a better matchup for the Lakers compared to the previous two they’ve had in Memphis and Golden State. The Lakers being a bigger and older team — older in a certain sense — struggle with those dynamic, shifty or explosive guards. I actually think they will fare well against everyone else besides Jokic. The Lakers tend to be pretty good when they can hone in on one thing specifically.
For Denver, in a perfect world, Jokic scores 30, [has] eight to 10 assists, 10 to 12 rebounds, and he just affects the game in three huge areas. If you relegate him to one I think you have a good chance. He had 53 against Phoenix and they lost. … I think they’ll try a bunch of different things against Jokic, but my scouting mind would tell me they allow him to score 40 or 50. No. 1, it tires him out. No. 2, it limits everyone else [on Denver] and then you’re asking him to score that much four games in a row, which plays on his conditioning, plays on their pace and the games every other day, so you’re playing into those factors and the Lakers might have the edge in that.
The Nuggets hold an edge in their motivation. They seem very confident and they have a lot of big bodies to throw at LeBron, as far as [Aaron] Gordon, and they can do some different things. I just think the Lakers may run into some trouble if they’re relying on [Austin] Reaves and Lonnie Walker [IV]. The Lakers need someone else every game. I trust Dennis Schroder, but if I had to lean on trusting D’Angelo Russell, Reaves or having another huge game by [Rui] Hachimura, I don’t know about that. I think Denver’s depth does help them, that they have players who have been pretty consistent all year.
This story originally appeared on LA Times