Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic Details ‘Huge Respect’ For Lakers Ahead Of First Round Matchup
Nikola Jokic, Anthony Davis, Lakers, Nuggets
Jason Parkhurst-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers and Denver Nuggets are headed for an immediate rematch of their 2023 Western Conference Finals meeting, as they are facing off in the first round of the 2024 NBA Playoffs. The Lakers, by winning the Play-In Tournament, earned the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference, and now face the No. 2-seeded Nuggets and their superstar in Nikola Jokic.

Jokic is on pace to win his third Most Valuable Player award this season after another incredible campaign that saw him average 26.4 points, 12.4 rebounds and 9.0 assists per game on 58.3% from the field and 35.9% from beyond the arc. And he now will try to lead the Nuggets to a second consecutive championship. They have to go through the Lakers first, who they have won eight consecutive games against.

However, Jokic is not viewing the Lakers as an easy team to beat despite the eight straight wins. In fact, Jokic sees the Lakers as an extremely difficult matchup and a team he has plenty of respect for, via DNVR Sports:

“I think every game in the playoff series last year was really tough. It’s probably going to be the toughest series that we’ve had since I’m here because yes, we beat them 4-0 last year, but they are a really talented team. They are really well-built, they had a couple guys get back. I have huge respect for them and I think it’s going to be an interesting series.”

While Jokic admits that the Nuggets match up very well against the Lakers, he also believes that L.A. has some things that could exploit weaknesses in the Nuggets:

“I think we match up with them really good and they match up with us really good to be honest. Just because we won that doesn’t mean it was easy. They can do a couple different things on defense and offense, we can put some other guys on their main players. So I just think it’s going to be really interesting basketball wise, tactically and strategy wise.”

The Nuggets superstar focused on what specifically the Lakers do well that his team needs to focus on to have success:

“There are a bunch, probably. Stopping them in transition, especially LeBron. Stop them in the paint, AD is a monster there. Second chance points, too. Get them off the 3-point line, they have shooters who are shooting the ball really well right now. Details are going to make the big difference.”

Jokic and the Nuggets are certainly favored to win the series, but the Lakers are not going to be an easy out by any means. They pushed them to the brink in all four games last postseason and could easily give Denver an early scare.

LeBron James: Lakers must be mistake free to beat Nuggets

It is an uphill battle without a doubt for the Lakers to take down the Nuggets, who have simply had their number as of late. But the team is embracing the challenge and LeBron James knows the Lakers must play at an extremely high level just to have a chance.

Following the Lakers’ Play-In Tournament victory over the New Orleans Pelicans, LeBron turned his attention towards the Nuggets and he feels they can’t afford to make any mistakes if they plan on challenging the defending champions.

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