After five entertaining encounters, the Western Conference’s final series is over with hot favorites Los Angeles Lakers proving too much for the playoffs’ underdogs Denver Nuggets. A 117-107 win over the Nuggets means Los Angeles Lakers will be competing in an NBA final for the first time in 10 years. Their last NBA final appearance saw them beat the Celtics in 2010 for their 16th title. A win in this year’s final will bring home the Lakers’ 17th NBA title and tie the Celtics’ record for the most NBA title wins.
The road to this year’s finals has provided a few hiccups. However, the Lakers have been consistent and dominant throughout the playoffs. Despite a major upset in the first game of the playoff First Round against the Portland Trail Blazers to fall behind 1-0 in the series, the Lakers managed to overturn the tie and win the series 4-1 to set up a mouth-watering encounter against Houston Rockets.
The Lakers repeated the same feat from the previous round against the Rockets. They once again came back from a 1-0 deficit to win the series 4-1 and book their place in the Western Conference finals against a Denver Nuggets team, who eliminated the Lakers’ crosstown rivals Los Angeles Clippers. However, the Lakers have managed to get past the Nuggets quickly despite a loss in Game 3. The Lakers’ win also stopped the Nuggets from attempting another incredible comeback from a 3-1 series deficit for the third consecutive round.
Despite the comfortable Western Conference finals win, the Lakers know that they can’t be complacent as the NBA finals will prove a tough test and determine how far the team has evolved for the past year. For now, the Lakers await whoever wins the Eastern Conference finals between Boston Celtics and Miami Heat. This year’s NBA final will be the Lakers’ 32nd NBA Finals, the most in NBA history.
Here is an in-depth analysis of some of the talking points from Los Angeles Lakers’ 117-107 win over the Denver Nuggets in Game 5.
LeBron James shows his quality on the big stage once again
It was another masterclass from the Lakers’ star man LeBron James, whose individual brilliance secured a convincing win and a ticket to the NBA finals, the 10th overall NBA finals of his career. He is now tied with Lakers’ legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the third player in the history of the NBA to reach 10 NBA finals. Only Boston Celtics Legends Bill Russell (12) and Sam Jones (11) have made more NBA finals appearances. LeBron James also managed to achieve this feat in his second season with the Los Angeles Lakers.
LeBron James was on fire from the beginning to the end as he finished the game with an impressive 38 points, 16 rebounds, and ten assists. LeBron James also finished the game with his 27th postseason triple-double.
He was vital in the second quarter as he helped the Lakers take a 10-point lead into halftime. However, the highlight of his performances came in the fourth quarter as he scored 16 points, making 7-of-10 field goals in the process.
Before Game 5, LeBron was averaging 24 points, nine rebounds, and nine assists. After his excellent performance in Game 5, he is now averaging 26.7 points per game, 10.3 rebounds per game, and 8.9 assists per game. James is also averaging 1.3 steals per game and 1.0 blocks per game.
With LeBron James in top form for the Lakers, it could be just a matter of when and not if the Los Angeles Lakers will win the NBA finals this year.
Lakers’ defense manages to cope with Denver Nuggets’ young, explosive team
This year’s playoffs will forever be a memorable one for the Nuggets, whose young roster certainly made big impressions against all of their formidable opponents. The likes of Jamal Murray, Jerami Grant, Nikola Jokic, and 22-year old rookie Michael Porter Jr. showed glimpses of their quality. They were also instrumental in the Nuggets’ incredible comeback wins over the Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Clippers in the previous rounds. Despite the threats posed by these Nuggets players, the Lakers’ defense found a way to frustrate them, thus stopping them from impacting the game. Both Nikola Jokic and Jerami Grant scored 20 points each for the Nuggets. Simultaneously, Jamal Murray, who made significant contributions in the previous games, recorded just 19 points and eight assists. Murray’s game ended on a frustrating note as a right leg injury saw him exit after 43 minutes on the court. Jokic was also guilty of committing several fouls in a difficult night for the Nuggets offense thanks to the Lakers’ mean defense.