Lakers VS Nuggets WCF Preview

Well... Well... Well...

Looks like we are exactly where I expected us to be this time of year. This, of course, coming after the trade deadline freed us from the former MVP of the league Russell Westbrook. Now let me be clear is Westbrook washed? No, of course not. I saw his "valiant" effort in the first round against the Phoenix Suns. It was a perfect scenario for him. Both of the Clipper stars were out with injury, and it was Westbrooks's time to shine. He put up good numbers.  A commendable stat stuffer supreme if you will, but the Clippers were never close to getting out of the first round. That brings me back to the trade. Have you heard the term addition by subtraction? I knew once we got a halfway decent point guard with a smaller ego, the ball would find the right players for the Lakers to reach their full potential. Now three months since the trade deadline, we are one step away from my Nostraduaumus prophecy of the Lakers getting to the 'Ship.




The Lakers now have not one or two playmakers outside of LeBron James, who has taken an excellent complementary role in the team's success. This team goes as far as Anthony Davis takes them. AD has by far been the best player in the Western Conference playoffs. If it wasn't for Jimmy "Himmy" Butler's best Michael Jordan presentation, AD would be the best player in these playoffs. Anthony Davis has averaged 21.2 points, 14.1 rebounds, and 3.3 blocks in 12 games in the 2023 playoffs. While those numbers may look unassuming for the eight-time all-star, the anchoring of the league's best defense has turned this Laker season around. Davis has done an incredible job masking some of the weaker individual defensive players on the team, like D'Angelo Russell and LeBron James, who can give you a few possessions a game if the team needs a stop. 

LeBron James, who was out for an extended period late in the season, was quoted as saying he fell in love with his teammates while watching on the sidelines. James, familiar with using social media and legacy media to get messages out, was clearly unhappy with the different approach he and Westbrook ultimately had, which each individual deemed a success. Following a fifth consecutive victory for the Los Angeles Lakers, head coach Darvin Ham and superstar LeBron James urged the team to get "greedy" in the upcoming few games, but Russell Westbrook had another idea. James, 38, looked shocked when Westbrook interrupted him in the middle of his speech just to tell everyone to "have fun." "Just keep having fun, bro," Westbrook said. "Be happy for the next man. Keep having fun, bro. Win, lose, or draw, have fun. Just keep having fun, bro."

As a father, I would tell my children this when they get worked up over a game of candy land, but call me old-fashioned when I like to hear my favorite team acting like winning is somewhat everything. Sure, with enough context, any sporting event could be considered trivial at best. Still, for any die-hard sports fan listening to Russ cop out with the lets have fun excuse, the writing was on the wall. 

Since the trade, the Lakers have had the best record in the NBA, and the team's defense has vastly improved. 


This was a quote today from Laker guard Lonnie Walker:

"Man, it sounds amazing. But then, after the trades and the players we've gotten, it just took us to a whole 'nother level. The chemistry, the love that we all got within one another, it's great. It's great to know we started 2-10, and everyone was talking all of that talk, but we still made it. And we got a lot more to go, we got a lot more to give, and this is just the first step to what we trying to accomplish."


With all things considered, this Laker season has already been deemed a success in my book. With where the team was at the beginning of the 22-23 campaign, starting off 2-12 on and dealing with the Westbrook saga, it feels so refreshing rooting for this Laker team who plays with a passion and togetherness that wasn't there before the trade.

That said, the Lakers are good enough to beat the Nuggets, the best all-around team left in these playoffs. A huge factor will be the AD and Joker battle. Without a viable second big defender, look for newly acquired Tristian Thompson to appear in this series. Outside of some garbage time in game two of the Warrior series, Thompson has been on the bench offering support and advice to his teammates. TT is the only defender outside of AD on this roster who could, at the very least, provide some spot mins and use up all his fouls to wear down the two-time MVP.

I look forward to a highly contested battle for the right to go to the NBA Finals. As a Laker fan, doesn't it feel good to be back?




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