5 Increasingly promising reasons to believe Lakers can dethrone Nuggets

Everyone is counting LA out against Denver, but there is a growing list of reasons they can shock the world.
Nikola Jokic, Anthony Davis
Nikola Jokic, Anthony Davis / Justin Tafoya/GettyImages
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In what will be a rematch of the 2023 Western Conference Finals, the Los Angeles Lakers are set to take on the defending champion Denver Nuggets in the first round of the playoffs. After LA's win over the Pelicans in the seven versus eight seed Play-In game, the Lake Show locked in their matchup with the team from the Mile High City.

The Nuggets nearly finished with the top seed in the West for the second season in a row, ending up with the two seed after the final day of regular season action. They will continue their title defense against LeBron James, Anthony Davis and company. Many are ready to call this series a wrap before it begins and assume Denver will have an easy win after they swept the Lakers last season.

But in reality, there is a growing list of reasons the Nuggets may not have such an easy series with LA after all. These are the five biggest factors that could lead to the Lakers actually upsetting the defending champions.

1. Improved guard play for the Lakers

One area where LA was thoroughly dominated in last year's matchup with Denver in the conference finals was backcourt play. Jamal Murray scored over 30 points per game for the Nuggets while shooting north of 50% from the floor over the four games in the series.

On the other side, D'Angelo Russell struggled mightily for the Lakers, averaging less than seven points for the series. But recently, D'Lo has strung together some really solid performances and seems to be playing his best basketball since re-joining the Lakers last year.

In addition, LA now has Gabe Vincent to throw on the floor for additional three-point shooting and on-ball defense as well. These guys will not be the reason the Lakers have a chance at winning the series, but they can certainly be a plus.