The Los Angeles Lakers did a tremendous job of turning their season around after the trade deadline last season, going from 13th place to the Western Conference Finals.
Unfortunately though, the run ended there as the Lakers lost to the eventual NBA Champion Denver Nuggets, being swept in what actually was a pretty competitive four games.
That series loss has understandably left a sour taste in the Lakers’ mouth all summer. The good news is that the Lakers do not have to wait much longer if they want to avenge that series loss as the NBA scheduled the Lakers and Nuggets to play each other on Opening Night on Oct. 24.
This is the second straight year the Lakers are playing the defending champions on the night they get their rings. The Lakers lost to the Golden State Warriors last year, which began a rough 2-10 start to their season.
L.A. will obviously be looking for a different result this year and in an interview with Lakers Nation, Austin Reaves talked about how badly they want to come away with a win on Opening Night.
“It’s a good opportunity to kind of go rain on their parade,” Reaves said. “It’s obviously gonna be ring night and their emotions are gonna be high. [Michael] Malone has said a lot of stuff after the fact, he kept trying to really drag it out on and on. But it’s just a good opportunity for us to go try and make a statement the first game. Like I said, make a statement.”
What Reaves is referring to when it comes to Michael Malone was his constant desire to bring up the Lakers when speaking to the media during and after the Western Conference Finals. He was unhappy with the Lakers talking about the Lakers as much as they did, although Malone and the Nuggets even continued to troll the L.A. at their championship parade, which drew responses from LeBron James, Darvin Ham and Jeanie Buss.
It’s clear that Malone’s comments are a source of motivation for the Lakers, although getting a win and spoiling the Nuggets’ ring night already seems to be enough motivation for Reaves.
It won’t be an easy task though as the Nuggets still have a very talented team. L.A. will need Reaves to play at his best, which shouldn’t be a problem as he was incredible in the Western Conference Finals against Denver, averaging 21.3 points, 3.5 rebounds and 5.3 assists while shooting 54.9% from the field and 56% from 3-point range in the four games.
Ham addresses Lakers’ lack of center to guard Jokic
While the Lakers’ roster is much-improved this season, perhaps the one thing they are lacking is a big center to guard Nuggets star Nikola Jokic.
In his first press conference of the year, Ham addressed how the Lakers will account for that, believing their overall depth and improvements elsewhere will help make up for their lack of size on Jokic, who is unguardable anyway.
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