The Los Angeles Lakers will head to the Mile High City to take on the Denver Nuggets in the team’s final game before the much needed 2020 NBA All-Star break.
The team’s recent struggles have been well documented heading into this game. Los Angeles is just 7-5 in their last 12 games after their unbelievable 33-7 start that included four win streaks of at least seven games. Some of this can be attributed to fatigue as all good teams have some type of lull just before the All-Star Break, but there’s also an element of lack of focus. The Lakers will need to re-engage for this game if they want a chance at winning.
The Nuggets have won four straight and have a home record of 21-6, meaning they’ll be ready for an opponent like the Lakers. What the purple and gold must avoid is an effort like the win against the Golden State Warriors. A game like that may be good enough for a win against the league’s worst team, but wouldn’t give them a chance against the Western Conference’s No. 2 seed.
The Nuggets will be without a couple of their important depth pieces as Michael Porter Jr. and Will Barton. The Lakers only have Anthony Davis listed on the injury report, but he’s probable as he’s been for a majority of the season.
While it’s only February, playoff seeding becomes a big factor in a game like this. If the Lakers win, they’ll go to the All-Star break with a four-game lead on the Nuggets and at least a three-game lead over the Los Angeles Clippers.
However, if they lose, they’ll have just a two-game advantage on the Nuggets. Given the difference between the No. 7 and No. 8 seed in the Western Conference — the 32-22 Dallas Mavericks vs. the 27-26 Memphis Grizzlies — being the No. 1 could matter.
The major focus for the Lakers in this game needs to be defense. Since Jan. 12, the Lakers rank outside the top-10 in defensive rating. With the Nuggets playing as well as they are and Nikola Jokic averaging 20.6 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 6.9 assists, Los Angeles has their work cut out for them.
Los Angeles Lakers (40-12) vs. Denver Nuggets (38-16)
7:00 P.M. PT, Feb. 12, 2020
Pepsi Center, Denver, Colorado
TV: ESPN, Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM (ESPN), 1330 KWKW (Spanish)
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: LeBron James
SG: Avery Bradley
SF: Danny Green
PF: Anthony Davis
C: JaVale McGee
Key Reserves: Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Dwight Howard, Rajon Rondo
Projected Nuggets Starting Lineup:
PG: Jamal Murray
SG: Gary Harris
SF: Torrey Craig
PF: Paul Millsap
C: Nikola Jokic
Key Reserves: Monte Morris, PJ Dozier, Jordan McRae, Keita Bates-Diop, Jerami Grant