Lakers News: Nikola Jokic Believes Nuggets Are Facing ‘New Team’ From 2020 & Earlier This Season
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The last time the Los Angeles Lakers and Denver Nuggets faced in the playoffs wasn’t too long ago. During the Lakers’ 2020 NBA Championship run inside the Orlando bubble, it was the Nuggets who stood in their way in the Western Conference Finals as well, with LeBron James and Anthony Davis leading L.A. to a victory in five games.

This year, things are a bit different, however. Nikola Jokic has won two NBA MVPs since that time and the Nuggets have been the top seed in the West basically all year long with the Lakers being the clear underdog coming into this series. The only Lakers players remaining from that championship team are James and Davis.

But this Lakers team is also vastly different from the one Denver faced earlier this year as the two sides have not met since early January. And in an interview with ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk, Jokic made it clear that this is a new team Denver is facing:

“We didn’t play with this kind of Lakers [team],” Jokic said. “So this is going to be basically a new team for us. Probably everything is new, everything is different.

“They’re playing amazing in these playoffs. Since [the trade] deadline, they’re playing really well.”

In the last meeting between these two teams, James and Davis both sat out. The Laker rolled out a starting lineup of Dennis Schroder, Patrick Beverley, Max Christie, Juan Toscano-Anderson and Thomas Bryant. Off the bench, Russell Westbrook, Kendrick Nunn and Sterling Brown all logged big minutes as well, as did two-way player Cole Swider.

Needless to say, a lot has changed since then. But even while acknowledging how good this new Lakers team has played, Jokic still believes his squad is more experienced compared to 2020:

“We are more experienced,” Jokic said of this current squad. “We have been there before. We are maybe a little bit more, not focused, [but playing in] different environments [than the bubble]. So I think we are just experienced, playing a little bit more together.”

Indeed the Nuggets do have some players such as Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who was a member of that 2020 championship Lakers team, and Jeff Green, who has experienced everything there is in the NBA. But that lack of experience on the Lakers hasn’t stopped them yet, and they will go into Denver fully believing they can take out the West’s top seed.

LeBron James acknowledges Denver altitude challenges, believes Nuggets are better than 2020

Of course as the top seed in the West, the Nuggets have home court advantage and that provides its own issues. Colorado is known for its high altitude, which can contribute heavily to fatigue, something that James made clear does happen in Denver.

LeBron also noted that this year’s Nuggets team is better than the one the Lakers faced in 2020, believing Jokic is more experienced now and that Jamal Murray is fully back from his injury issues.

Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!

You May Also Like

Lakers Rumors: Juwan Howard Declined Opportunity To Interview For Heading Coaching Job

The Los Angeles Lakers are finally in the home stretch of their head coaching search as they have reportedly narrowed…

Game Recap: Lakers Outhustled In Valley Of The Sun

After a 102-83 loss to the Golden State Warriors on Saturday, the…

Lakers News: Mike D’Antoni Calls Kobe ‘Fan’ After Loss

Following the Lakers’ Game 1 loss to the San Antonio Spurs on…

Why Kobe Would Love if Doc “Cry Me a” Rivers Math were True

According to Doc Rivers, head coach of the Boston Celtics, the Celtics…