The Los Angeles Lakers made it much farther than anyone expected in the 2022-23 season, reaching the Western Conference Finals with a roster that was assembled at the 2023 trade deadline.
There, the Lakers ran into the best player on the planet — Nikola Jokic — and were unable to take a game against the Denver Nuggets. Los Angeles was ultimately swept but the team played four competitive games that were far more competitive than the NBA Finals.
You would have thought that the Lakers-Nuggets series was the NBA Finals because the Nuggets seemed to appreciate beating the Lakers more than winning the first title in franchise history. Coach Michael Malone could not stop bringing up LeBron James and the Lakers, even bringing them up in the championship parade.
It was a weird obsession with the purple and gold that ultimately lit a spark under the Lakers. LeBron and Anthony Davis heard the taunting loud and clear and now the duo is heading into the 2023-24 season looking for vengeance.
The Los Angeles Lakers have kept receipts on the Denver Nuggets
The last thing that any team in the Western Conference should do is give LeBron and AD more motivation. This duo is already incredibly driven by the desire to win an NBA Championship and any extra motivation is just going to push them over the edge.
Denver certainly deserves respect as the defending NBA Champions, especially considering they have the best player on the planet. But they are not unbeatable and there were several things that happened in that Western Conference Finals that may not happen again.
Jamal Murray had the best playoff series of his entire career and Bruce Brown turned into an all-star. Brown is no longer on the team and it isn’t a crazy bet to think that Murray will play slightly worse if these two teams square off in the playoffs again.
All eyes should be focused on the first time these two teams play, which is Opening Night on October 24. Los Angeles is going to go into that game looking for vengeance while Jokic and the Nuggets may not fully be kicked into gear yet. If there was ever a game for the Lake Show to send a statement it would be that game.