Los Angeles Lakers: Breaking down the Nuggets’ three best players

(Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) – Los Angeles Lakers
(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) – Los Angeles Lakers /

1. Nikola Jokic

Playoff Averages: 25.4 PTS, 10.8 TRB, 6.0 AST, 51.5 FG%, 44 3P%

It shouldn’t come as any surprise who is last on this list. Nikola Jokic has been a top-five player in the playoffs thus far. He has been shooting lights out from three, getting teammates involved all postseason, and scoring big points in the final stretches for the Nuggets. It also helps that he’s been hitting ridiculous one-legged post fadeaway shots whenever he wants.

Jokic has backed up his strong 2019 playoff run with a just as good playoffs in 2020. Without Jokic’s efforts in the semifinals, the Nuggets would have never come back down 3-1 for the second consecutive series and he will look to continue that success against the Lakers.

The Los Angeles  Lakers will turn to big men JaVale McGee, Dwight Howard, and Anthony Davis in the 4th quarter specifically, to slow down the Nuggets’ superstar center. After barely playing in the second round, Howard and McGee will be motivated to get the Lakers back into the NBA finals, which will only be possible if they contribute in slowing down Jokic.

Jokic’s greatest weapon is his passing ability. At 7’0″, Nikola Jokic is among the league’s best facilitators, as he has the ability to find open teammates, no matter where they are on the court. Another big threat he possesses is his ability to stay calm under pressure.

We have all seen it throughout the playoffs as the Nuggets have found themselves trailing on multiple occasions during their elimination games. When put in these situations, Jokic finds a way to help his team come back, while seeming unflustered whatsoever.

One thing Lakers head coach Frank Vogel will need to learn from for this series, is to not make the same mistakes as Clippers’ head coach Doc Rivers. One crucial mistake Rivers made in game seven was constantly throwing double teams at Nikola Jokic when he was in the post, or in the paint.

Jokic is so tall and gifted with his passing, that he almost always finds the open man from a double team, which oftentimes results in a wide-open three-pointer for the Nuggets.

dark. Next. Why the Nuggets stand no chance against the Lakers

That is where him being so calm and collected comes into play, and it killed the Clippers. If the Lakers are going to win the Western Conference finals and advance to the finals, it all starts with stopping Nikola Jokic.