The Los Angeles Lakers have very little time to dwell on their 10-game winning streak being snapped as they face the Denver Nuggets in a battle of the top two teams in the Western Conference.
The Lakers remain at the top of the conference with a 17-3 record while the Nuggets aren’t far behind at 13-4.
The Nuggets have been carried by their defense during the 2019-20 NBA season as they lead the league in defensive rating. They don’t turn the basketball over too much and are an excellent rebounding team, limiting their opponents to just one chance to score.
Offensively, they haven’t been excellent, but have the capability to explode on any night thanks to their promising young duo of Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray.
Jokic is one of the best passing big men the NBA has ever seen and everything operates through him. Murray is the team’s leading scorer and the more capable one-on-one player, but both have gotten off to a slow start to the season. The Nuggets aren’t a great deep shooting team, but must also be wary of players such as Will Barton and Gary Harris as they are more than capable of getting hot.
The Lakers have the defensive capabilities to make things tough on the Nuggets. The trio of JaVale McGee, Anthony Davis, and Dwight Howard all bring something different in trying to contain Jokic and the Lakers will need all three to keep him in check. The same goes for Murray as the Lakers can throw Danny Green, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Alex Caruso at him.
The problem for the Lakers on both ends is they have been prone to slumps at different times of the game. Recently, it had been the defense slacking off before they turned it around but in the loss to the Mavericks, it was the offense that was nowhere to be found for most of the third quarter.
LeBron James will need to continue his level of play, particularly when it comes to getting his teammates involved, but he must limit his turnovers as the Nuggets will take full advantage of that. The Lakers should also have an advantage from deep so Green or Caldwell-Pope could be crucial.
With this being the first leg of a back-to-back situation with a showdown with the Utah Jazz looming next, getting this win would be huge for the team’s confidence and should quiet some doubters pointing to their easy schedule to start the season.
Los Angeles Lakers (17-3) vs. Denver Nuggets (13-4)
6:00 P.M. PT, Dec. 3, 2019
Pepsi Center, Denver, Colorado
TV: Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM (ESPN), 1330 KWKW (Spanish)
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: LeBron James
SG: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
SF: Danny Green
PF: Anthony Davis
C: JaVale McGee
Key Reserves: Kyle Kuzma, Dwight Howard, Alex Caruso, Rajon Rondo, Quinn Cook
Projected Nuggets Starting Lineup:
PG: Jamal Murray
SG: Gary Harris
SF: Will Barton
PF: Paul Millsap
C: Nikola Jokic
Key Reserves: Jerami Grant, Malik Beasley, Juan Hernangomez, Monte Morris, Mason Plumlee