In his first Western Conference Finals appearance, Anthony Davis did not disappoint as he led the Los Angeles Lakers to a 126-114 victory over the Denver Nuggets.
Davis finished the game with a game-high 37 points to go along with 10 rebounds and four assists in 33 minutes of action. His size, length and athleticism overwhelmed the Nuggets offensively, while defensively he was menace protecting the rim and deterring shots all the out to the perimeter.
The All-Star has really elevated his play since the postseason began, but his level of focus was arguably at its peak with how he affected the game on nearly every possession. From a scoring standpoint, however, Davis was clearly playing above his competition as he knocked down shots from nearly every spot on the floor.
“We have to do something different with him. It was too easy for him tonight,” lamented Nuggets head coach Mike Malone.
“He did not feel us. I think over 48 minutes we just can’t play him the same, give him the same look. So that’s definitely something that we can look at the film and figure out how we can be better.”
Davis was an efficient 12-of-21 from the field, getting to his spots to set up his jumper or getting behind the Denver defense to flush perfectly thrown lobs. His offensive versatility was a sight to behold and it is going to cause the Nuggets trouble for the rest of the series unless they figure out a way to slow him down.
Nikola Jokic has been playing like a legitimate superstar throughout the postseason and Lakers head coach Frank Vogel is among those who heaped praise, calling him one of the most unique players in the NBA.
However, Jokic was no match guarding Davis in Game 1 as he is slower and does not possess the defensive acumen to bother him. It will be interesting to see the adjusts Malone makes for Game 2, but in the meantime Davis has to feel confident about how he is playing so far.
Vogel preached taking care of business prior to Game 1
The Lakers’ win over the Nuggets marked their first Game 1 victory in the postseason, an odd stat considering how their earlier series turned out.
Heading into their first matchup with Denver, Vogel emphasized that they needed to be better this time around. “We can’t take any playoff game for granted,” Vogel said. “Just because we lost Game 1 and won the last two series doesn’t mean there’s not great importance to winning tonight’s game.
“Everything that we have done over the last couple days to prepare and go over every little thing we can with regards to the Denver Nuggets and what we have to do win this game and this series has carried great importance. It is a big part of today’s message, that this is a very important game.”
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